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Old 04 July 2012, 14:01   #1
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Thames local knowledge endorsement now compulsory for all commercial operators

The dreaded PLA bylaw revisions have come into play on the 1st July. As well as new rules and regs regarding speed for all vessels, there are new rules for skippers of all commercial vessels, which includes RIBs used for charter and training. If you are operating a craft on the Thames between Putney and Margretness in a commercial capacity, you must now have a local knowledge endorsement (LKE).

A copy of the new bylaws can be found here: http://www.pla.co.uk/pdfs/maritime/1...s_Byelaws1.pdf

The bit of interest is as follows:

22. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE REQUIREMENTS
22.1 The master of any vessel which is:
a) less than 40 metres but greater than 13.7 metres in length overall, and not
subject to compulsory pilotage; or
b) less than 13.7 metres in length overall engaged in towing or carrying
passengers; and
c) not a pleasure vessel
if navigating and/or working in the Thames local knowledge area, is required
to hold a valid Boatmaster’s Licence Thames Local Knowledge
Endorsement; or alternatively, to demonstrate such local knowledge to an
equivalent standard, through assessment by the PLA.

This is going to make life very difficult for charter operators, training schools and skippers alike. I know from personal experience how hard getting this piece of paper is unless you have spent literally months working on the river every day.

For those who haven't done it yet, it consists of a comprehensive verbal commentary (no notes, charts or other materials are allowed) of a passage from Margretness to Putney. You need to know depths, bridge heights, and names of the majority of wharfs and docks and moorings.
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Old 04 July 2012, 14:55   #2
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Hi Tim. Is this now in place and enforceable from July? What are enforement measures and penalties for an operator using skippers on the Thames
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Old 04 July 2012, 15:01   #3
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Friend of mine has just had to do it and there is an extraordinary amount of information - and the examining board are all local experts and have no qualms in rejecting if your knowledge is up to the high standard. I suppose it is a good idea, tourists are therefore really getting their monies worth across the board but a bit unfair if you are just doing a few high speed thrill runs....
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Old 04 July 2012, 15:12   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C2 RIBS
Hi Tim. Is this now in place and enforceable from July? What are enforement measures and penalties for an operator using skippers on the Thames
Yes it is. I hear they're unblocking the entry to the traitors gate as we speak!
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Old 04 July 2012, 15:34   #5
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.......and the examining board are all local experts and have no qualms in rejecting if your knowledge is up to the high standard.....
So they are looking for a low standard?
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Old 04 July 2012, 17:34   #6
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And I was gonna be all diplomatic there Doug and not mention that
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Old 05 July 2012, 06:36   #7
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Just a quick update: I checked with the PLA this morning and special arrangements have been granted for RYA training centres. The LKE is only required if the boat is required to go over 12 knots. So that's basically any planing powerboat course. RYA instructors also have longer to get the LKE, although I'm not yet sure when this deadline is.
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Old 05 July 2012, 11:45   #8
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So the daft question and apoloiges for my naievity - how does one get either the LKE or a boatmasters license for the Thames then,...?

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Old 05 July 2012, 12:04   #9
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To do an LKE exam with the PLA, phone them up and tell them you want to book an exam slot. They're rushed off their feet with them at the moment apparently so expect to wait a few weeks. On the day you turn up at their office (near Tower Hill station) where you're expected to do your commentary/description of the route in front of a small panel made up of Harbour Masters/deputy harbour masters/PLA people. It takes about an hour.

There is a chap who's name I have forgotten and number I have lost (helpful I know) that offers training prior to the exam. He charges a fortune (from memory 500 a day?) to tell you what you need to know. I did 2 days training with him in the classroom, followed by an afternoon on the river going over the route. However, you still need to know the river like the back of your hand before you attempt any training or an exam.
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Old 05 July 2012, 13:45   #10
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How are they checking this? With numerous RIBs and operators doing a day at a time on the river with one boat to many they must have loads of resources to check??
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