Visiting the London 2012 Olympics by boat?
The 2012 Olympics will bring millions of visitors to the UK - and most of them into central London. The transport implications of this will present a logistical nightmare for the organisers, who don't really seem to have got their heads around how to deal with water-borne visitors.
In essence, if you plan to visit the games by boat (or even visit central London by boat during the games), you must ensure you have a pre-booked and confirmed mooring before you start your journey. As anyone familiar with the Thames will testify, mooring facilities are limited at best, and the games looks set to put massive pressure on already scant resources.
Recreational vessels travelling to the Thames Estuary in the summer of 2012
The estuary supports some of the country's major ports and simply cannot cope with an unplanned influx of recreational craft over a concentrated period of time. If you venture into these congested waters, don't be surprised to be told, in no uncertain terms, to clear off ('for your own safety', of course). You will be asked to prove that you have a booked and confirmed mooring and, if you can't, you face a swift turn-around and a long journey back home.
Moorings on the Tidal Thames
Whilst the Port of London Authority (PLA) has stated its intention to licence commercial operators to provide additional moorings in the tideway, it's unlikely that there will be enough to meet the demand during the summer of 2012. Leisure moorings in the tideway are few and are spread far and wide up and down the river; they are largely confined to marinas and yacht clubs (these are shown on a useful map at www.boatingonthethames.co.uk .
As the most congested waterway in the UK, with tidal streams running in excess of 4 knots and a tidal rise and fall of over 7 metres, the tideway is no place to be if you don't have a suitable mooring. If you do arrange a mooring in 2012, in light of the above tidal conditions, you are advised not to use your own tender, but to make use of one of the many water taxi services that will be available.
What about the marinas?
If you don't already have a booking, don't hold your breath. St Katherine Docks has been fully booked for the summer of 2012 for about a year. Imperial Wharf is taking bookings for stays of one month only. Limehouse is said to be constructing additional pontoons, but has a long waiting list. Your best bet is probably to try South Dock Marina or Gallions Point Marina, the latter being closest to the games and providing good value for money.