AIS -River Safety - Live Planes
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These notes are for guidance only and should be considered only in
conjunction with official publications available from the Royal Yachting
Association and other sources (see Links)
The River Stour is tidal from it's mouth up to the fixed sluice at Fordwich
and over this stretch, which covers some 19 miles of river, it is covered by
COLAS regulations. This is the international code for the prevention of collisions
This code applies to all craft from canoes and coracles up to the biggest
supertanker. Of course, a supertanker would not be able to get up the river, but
the rules still apply.
The main points to remember though, are that, in simple terms, you need to
drive on the right. You should also remember that larger craft need deeper
In the confines of the River, the deep water channel wanders from side to
side with the deeper area often on the outside of bends. A canoe needs only
inches of water to float in, whereas a 30 to 40 foot boat may need 6 feet or
more of water to stop going aground. This may mean that, at times it is
necessary to pass the 'wrong' way round. The reason being that a large vessel,
with little ability to change the side of the river they are using, comes into
the category 'vessel restricted in it's ability to manouver'.
Current, wind and speed, and form of propulsion all have an effect on a
boat's ability to change direction. For example a large motorboat, with shaft
driven propellers and a single rudder going downstream would have very little
control when stopping compared to an outboard powered small boat going upstream.
The same would apply to a coxed four going downstream compared to a single kayak
going in the opposite direction! For this reason, the with current or tide on its stern vessel (it changes 4 times a day) is given
priority when a 'give way situation is encountered between two vessels
of similar characteristics.
the river there are a number of 'blind' bends which require extra care. On
approach to these bends, all vessels should give a long (3-5 seconds) blast of
their horn. If possible, they should keep to starboard (the right hand side) of
the channel. Signals are explained in the RYA
publication on Inland Waterways. Vessels traveling in company should approach
these bends line astern (single file) and not abreast. An example earlier this
year was a largish motorboat rounding a bend to find a number of canoes spread
out across the river. The motorboat went astern to stop hitting the canoes, but
this caused the boat to slew around due to the 'kick' of the propeller. The
canoes scattered all over the place upon seeing a large motorboat doing what was
basically an emergency stop. From the level of a canoeist, close to the surface,
it must have been a terrifying sight, but the canoeist were the ones in the
wrong as they were spread across the river.
should not inconvenience other river users. That means using common sense and
keeping wash to a minimum when passing moored vessels or overtaking slower ones.
Also when passing other boats, your wash should be such that it will not throw
the other boat all over the place. Don't forget that there could be someone
below with a hot kettle! Rowing skiffs have very little freeboard and can easily
be swamped from a thoughtless speedboat. Many outboard powered vessels create a
disproportionate wash for their size and need to be particularly aware of the
mayhem that they can leave behind them! Other river users also include people
enjoying the river from the banks, such as anglers and walkers.
Shellness, near the mouth of the river, to above Sandwich, there is a speed
limit of 8 knots which should be observed, but if you did 8 knots through the
Sandwich moorings you would get some very angry looks as this speed is too fast.
Use your common sense and you will not go far wrong!!
Please Note Tide Times. Sandwich Bridge High Tide is 1 hour after Dover HT and Grove Ferry is 3-1/4 Hours after Dover HT