I'm thinking of going up the Thames for Christmas and the New Year.
Why is it so hard to get a visitor licence and find the costs? And the stoppages?
I thought it would be nice to spend the New Year in Oxford, but turns out that at least one lock (Cookham) is closed for most of the winter. Oh dear.
Still, I can get up to the River Wey. So even before I get to the Wey's individual visitor licensing, why can't I find the cost of a Thames licence for visiting boats on the Environment Agency website?
No luck. I learn that:
There are three variations of visitor registrations available.
Option 1 Six one day certificates;
Option 2 two 15 consecutive day certificates;
Option 3 one 31 consecutive days certificate;
Since 1 January 2003, boaters visiting the Thames, have been able to 'mix and match' their visitor registration certificates. Boaters can choose from any of the visitor registrations, or from a combination of the three different registration certificates per year.
This will allow visitors to travel along the Thames for a total of 67 days by purchasing up to six one-day registrations, two 15-day registrations and one 31-day registration.
Use Form: Thames Visitor Registration Form
Yes, yes, but what's the cost? The words 'Use form' suggests a link, but it's not a link. After much browsing I found another link :
It starts: "Applications should be made by post at least ten working days in advance to allow for receipt of the registration and licence before use."
This document is a wonder. Not only does it test your mathematical skills to the limit in working out a temporary licence fee, but it warns you:
There is a definite legal requirement that every launch shall bear the registered name (as it will appear on the ‘Thames’ registration certificate) on each side of the bow and on the stern in plain letters and figures in the
following minimum sizes:
• 2" (5.1cm) for a launch not more than 20' (6.09m) long.
• 3" (7.6cm) for a launch between 20' (6.09m) and 30' (9.14m) long.
• 4" (10.2cm) for a launch between 30' (9.14m) and 50' (15.23m) long.
• 6" (15.2cm) for a launch exceeding 50' (15.23m).
And the cost? "Please see table on page 6"
Jesus. It's not actually the price. It's the pettifogging complexity and detail. Those who complain about BW don't know how lucky they are.
I think I'll just motor up Teddington Lock on the day and ask them if I qualify as a 'Thames launch'.
If I don't like what I hear, I'll turn around and go back to Brentford, snug in my little British Waterways comfort blanket.
I thought I might just get a Gold licence, but due to arcane Environment Agency rules, they are only available Jan-Dec. They are also about 50% more expensive than a standard BW licence - a lot to pay for a week of hunting daily for a free mooring.