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Old 04 July 2012, 13:01   #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, 13:55   #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, 14:01   #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, 14:12   #4
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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
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, 14:34   #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, 16:34   #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, 05:36   #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, 10:45   #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, 11:04   #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, 12:45   #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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Old 05 July 2012, 15:04   #11
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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??
The PLA is incredibly well resourced with numerous patrols out at any one time, and they do check boats they don't recognise. That combined with cameras that cover most of the river. You can't breath without a permit!
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Old 05 July 2012, 15:17   #12
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Also saw this Tim- NO dispensations allowed

Commercial operations on the river at Olympics time

Operations on the tidal river are carefully regulated to ensure navigational safety. Setting up a new operation involves careful planning so that you fulfil the requirements of the PLA and, if appropriate, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The things you will have to cover include:

Identifying then obtaining permissions and approvals from the individual owners of the piers between which you wish to operate; this is one of the more difficult areas and needs to be considered prior to making any investment
Full planning for your service, passage planning and risk assessment
Securing the appropriate operating licence for the vessel you plan to operate (PLA or MCA)
Ensuring that the vessel is fitted with Thames AIS transponder system
That the skipper and crew have the appropriate Boat Masters Licence and Local Knowledge Endorsements.

There are no dispensations from the established safety regime for short-term operations.
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Old 17 July 2012, 17:12   #13
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What are enforement measures and penalties for an operator using skippers on the Thames
I finally found the answer to this:

5. OFFENCES
A person who breaches these byelaws is guilty of an offence and is liable, on
conviction before a court of summary jurisdiction, to a fine not exceeding
level 5 on the standard scale.
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Old 01 March 2013, 12:47   #14
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Going back again on Thames LKE. I had an enquiry for a London Thames job on charter and I dont hold the LKE.

I assume I cannot operate on PLA Thames without skipper holding this endorsement?
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Old 01 March 2013, 13:05   #15
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Correct. However, you could if you had an LKE holder on board. They don't even need to drive - you can bung them in the back but they have to be there. Let me know of you need someone.
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Old 01 March 2013, 13:17   #16
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Cheers Tim ,thought that was the case, was a non starter really due to costs, so gave them London boys tel numbers.

PLA obviously dont accept MCA advanced commercial endorsements, not worth the fines etc
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Old 01 March 2013, 18:00   #17
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Even this boat needed a LKE holder - not a commercial event but required before the PLA would even consider allowing it on the river!!

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Old 03 March 2013, 03:30   #18
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Curiously, the RNLI don't need it.
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