Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Our Destiny in Lights

A narrowboater was lambasted for crossing the Thames to the opposite side of the river and passing through the main working arch of the Blackfriars Rail Bridge, nearly running into a passenger vessel coming the other way.

The bridge has five arches; three were closed, one was open with lights and the remaining one was unmarked.

The boat apparently crossed over to the wrong side of the river and passed through the lit one. Lights are the key on the Thames Bridges and your destiny can be easily reshaped if you fail to understand or obey them. ... /site/News

The upshot of this is that the PLA maintains that when there are “no lights or signs showing” this indicates “an arch available for navigation by vessels when height of tide, draft, air draft and good seamanship permit”.

Okay, in smartass hindsight, he should have known this and he should have radioed VTS to request permission to cross the river, but it’s easy to be clever after the event.

I have just written a post on the canal forum on this subject and included a complete set of photographs covering the pilotage of the tideway from Tower Bridge to Lambeth Bridge.

As you can see below, quite large vessels use the side spans sometimes.

In fact, the PLA recommend that recreational vessels use the side spans of Tower Bridge. Photo above - The lights on the centre arch are flashing in isophase, indicating a large vessel approaching. You will notice that the trip boat has noticed and is taking the side span, to keep out of the way. The RNLI station pier is now located underneath No.1 arch of Waterloo Bridge. Strangely, it is still known as Tower Pier, probably because that is where it was moved from a few years back. This is Cannon Street Railway Bridge looking downstream.

You will notice the Rubbish facility on the North bank of the river, where the cities' rubbish is transferred to barges in small containers.

These are then towed downriver to be dumped at Mucking.

More information on this subject (and a lot more photos) can be found at:

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