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Jim Batty

River Thames Cruising: 20 May Update & Schedule

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The EA has been under pressure from a number of boating groups to respond more quickly to opening up the Thames to cruising while respecting present government guidance and social distancing. There appears to be some movement in surveying individual reaches ... and opening up those reaches to cruising by all vessels. 

I picked this up on the DBA forum and thought others might find the EA's proposed timetable useful.

 

Issues resulting from government coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions Wednesday 20 May 2020 until further notice

In response to and in line with revised government coronavirus guidance, we are working hard to ensure that the non-tidal River Thames is safe for navigation, and that lock breakdowns and obstructions to navigation are now dealt with, as quickly as possible.

The pace at which we are able to do this will, in some cases, depend on the availability of specialist contractors.

We are carrying out surveys of each individual reach, to replace hazard marker buoys which were dragged out of position by the winter’s flood flows, and to install marker buoys where we find new hazards in the main navigation channel. We are doing this as quickly as we can and as soon as we are satisfied that each reach can again be navigated by all forms of vessel, we will confirm this via an update to this notice. We will also reinstate the public power facility at locks, as each reach survey is completed.

The current status of each reach (upstream of the lock) is set out below. Where reach surveys are shown as completed, we aim restore the public power facility at the lock by 12pm on Thursday 21 May, once appropriate system checks have been carried out. Dates of planned surveys may change based on the availability of launches and crews.

 

St John’s, Buscot

Surveys planned for Friday 22 May

Grafton, Radcot, Rushey, Shifford

Surveys planned for Thursday 21 May

Northmoor

Survey completed - all forms of boating can resume

Pinkhill, Eynsham

Surveys planned for Friday 22 May

Kings

Survey completed - all forms of boating can resume

Godstow, Osney

Surveys planned for Thursday 21 May

Iffley

Survey completed - all forms of boating can resume

Please be aware: a van has sunk mid-channel approximately 150 metres upstream of Folly Bridge. No attempt to navigate should be made in this area.

Sandford

Survey planned for Thursday 21 May

Abingdon, Culham, Clifton

Surveys planned for Friday 22 May

Days, Benson, Cleeve

Surveys planned for Saturday 23 May

Goring, Whitchurch, Mapledurham, Caversham

Surveys planned for Thursday 21 May

Blakes, Sonning, Shiplake, Marsh

Surveys completed - all forms of boating can resume

The fallen tree that was obstructing the tail cut and preventing use of Marsh Lock has now been removed.

Hambleden*, Hurley, Temple, Marlow

Surveys planned for Sunday 24 May
Please be aware: a fallen tree is restricting the downstream lock cut at 
Temple Lock which should therefore be navigated with great care

Cookham*, Boulters, Bray, Boveney, Romney

Surveys planned for Monday 25 May

Old Windsor, Bell Weir*, Penton Hook

Surveys planned for Friday 22 May

Chertsey, Shepperton, Sunbury

Surveys planned for Thursday 21 May
Please be aware: 
Sunbury Lock has a sunken boat in the main channel above the upstream lock cut. No attempt should be made to navigate in these areas.

Molesey, Teddington*

Surveys completed - all forms of boating can resume

 

*Passage through these locks is currently by prior arrangement only and availability is limited. If you need to use these locks please email us at WaterwaysThames@environment-agency.gov.uk or telephone 03708 506 506 during normal business hours from Monday to Friday.

We are working to deal with all outstanding issues and to restore navigation for all vessels across the entire river as soon as we can.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

John Dutson
Acting Harbour Master 20 May 2020

 

From: https://barges.org/media/kunena/attachments/826/Lockandriverrestrictionsduetocoronavirus20May2020.pdf

Edited by Jim Batty
Minor clarification

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41 minutes ago, Graham Davis said:

How did a van get mid-channel at Ifley Lock?

About 60 into a blind bend.

 

The large white van plummeted into the river near Folly Bridge in the early hours of Saturday morning after pulling off Thames Street, racing through a small residential car park and then smashing into a concrete bollard.

The driver, who was probably experiencing a medical episode at the time, had to be rescued from the van

 

https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/18401400.van-owner-warned-remove-river-thames-asap/

 

or

 

https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/18392163.oxford-hero-rescued-man-sinking-van-river-thames/

 

 

 

Yeah, that one!  Crossposted with @Onewheeler

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The EA guidance is unhelpfully silent regarding staying overnight on a boat. But at least they have stopped their silly suggestion that handwinding a lock lessens the risk of virus transfer.

  • Greenie 1

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32 minutes ago, Mike on the Wey said:

The EA guidance is unhelpfully silent regarding staying overnight on a boat. 

Why would the EA need to issue any guidance? 

 

Unless you are  genuine liveaboard staying overnight isn't permitted yet. It's not he act of staying overnight that is the issue nor is it particularly boating related  but  the rule is to limit the possibility of many people gathering in places  such as holiday destinations and causing a virus hotspot .

 

The advice is  explained clearly by the C&RT 

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/safety-on-our-waterways/coronavirus

 

Many people don't seem to understand  the simple rules may not appear logical - but are in place for good reason. Despite this there have been many who have decided not to observe  the government advice because they think they know better .

 

 

  • Greenie 1

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13 hours ago, Graham Davis said:

How did a van get mid-channel at Ifley Lock?

It didn't - there are no roads (at ground level) near Ifflie lock.

The van came to rest in the shallows just above Folly bridge  - and for those who navigate from pub to pub is near the Harad of the River pub. From the Oxford Mail photos it appears to me that the van was driven at some speed down a side street, failed to negotiate the turn on the footpath and fell into the river. There's usually a reasonable flow in that section, so the van got carried down until it came to rest on the shallows where the stream divides (for those who bother to keep to the right).

 

It doesn't say much for whoever was on duty at EA to get the the location completely wrong - at least 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile upstream of Iffley lock...

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5 hours ago, Mike on the Wey said:

The EA guidance is unhelpfully silent regarding staying overnight on a boat. But at least they have stopped their silly suggestion that handwinding a lock lessens the risk of virus transfer.

I thought the overnight was a government requirements and the navigation authorities were just re enforcing that message. You have to return to your home at night

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Here's today's update, which also shows where public power has been reinstated: 

Yes, the EA and CRT are only reinforcing Government requirements. 

 

It seems to me that, normally, leisure cruisers tying up in the 'middle of nowhere' overnight (of which there is lots of scope on the Thames, especially the upper Thames) ... or even on many public moorings ... means they are out of the way and regaining some precious sanity after weeks of lockdown. BUT, I can see the argument that IF they were to become ill in the 'middle of nowhere' it might put unreasonable pressure on local health services. And the present balance seems to be drawn in favour of taking no chances.

 

St John’s, Buscot, Grafton, Radcot, Rushey, Shifford

Surveys planned for Friday 22 May

Northmoor

Survey completed - all forms of boating can resume

Pinkhill, Eynsham

Surveys planned for Friday 22 May

Kings

Survey completed - all forms of boating can resume

Godstow, Osney

Surveys completed – all forms of boating can resume.

Public power system in operation at both locks

Iffley

Survey completed - all forms of boating can resume.

Public power system in operation

 

Please be aware: a van has sunk mid-channel approximately 150 metres upstream of Folly Bridge. No attempt to navigate should be made in this area

Sandford, Abingdon, Culham, Clifton, Days, Benson, Cleeve

Surveys planned for Friday 22 May

Goring, Whitchurch, Mapledurham, Caversham

Surveys completed – all forms of boating can resume.

Public power system in operation at all locks

Blakes, Sonning, Shiplake, Marsh

Surveys completed - all forms of boating can resume.

Public power system in operation at all locks (except Blakes, which is a manually operated beam lock)

Hambleden*, Hurley, Temple, Marlow, Cookham*, Boulters, Bray

Surveys planned for Friday 22 May

 

Please be aware: a fallen tree is restricting the downstream lock cut at Temple Lock which should therefore be navigated with great care

Boveney, Romney, Old Windsor, Bell Weir*, Penton Hook, Chertsey

Surveys completed – all forms of boating can resume. Public power system to be reinstated from 12pm on Friday 22 May

Shepperton, Sunbury

Surveys planned for Friday 22 May.

Please be aware: Sunbury Lock has a sunken boat in the main channel above the upstream lock cut. No attempt should be made to navigate in this area. We are currently reviewing the safe removal of this boat and will update with a time frame on Tuesday 26 May

Molesey, Teddington*

Surveys completed - all forms of boating can resume. Public power system NOT currently in operation at Molesey Lock due to a fault. We are working on this

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Well, that took a while, the River Great Ouse has finally come off flood and strong stream advice!!

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It is interesting how leisure boats have been categorised as second homes and treated in the same way as second home country cottages/city apartments etc. Boats are far more similar to caravans or motorhomes, which could already be used sensibly and safely.

 

The suggestion that emergency services access would be challenging if a remotely moored boater required Covid-19 related assistance doesn't really work for me - the chances of contracting the virus are actually very very low.

Edited by Mike on the Wey
Edited to delete the curious text duplication within the post.

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1 minute ago, Mike on the Wey said:

It is interesting how leisure boats have been categorised as second homes and treated in the same way as second home country cottages/city apartments etc. Boats are far more similar to caravans or motorhomes, which could already be used sensibly and safely.

 

It's a combination of the two really.  As boats were not specifically mentioned in the original guidance, a bit of interpretation was needed.  All the caravan sites are closed, and we have all been told not to go to second or holiday homes, but to stay at our primary residences. 

 

I think the main concern with campsites is the shared facilities - toilets, elsan points, water points, showers etc - rather than the caravan or tent on a pitch spaced a few metres away from the next one.  The same would of course apply to marinas and service points on the inland waterways, but as many people live on boats they can't just shut the services.  Keeping all the leisure boaters away for now is a compromise.

 

 

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1 hour ago, TheBiscuits said:

As boats were not specifically mentioned in the original guidance, a bit of interpretation was needed.

I agree, that makes sense. The second home guidance was because travel to/from a second home was classed as a non-essential journey - as were vehicular trips to the beach, open countryside and national parks etc. The remaining restriction is also based, to an extent, on villagers thinking that their rural communities will be infected - based on the premise that cities are virus hotspots. Which is ironic, given today's news about the very low number of cases in London.

Edited by Mike on the Wey
Removed ambiguity

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