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Thames River boats - high maintenance or cheap to run

A Thames river boat like any boat is a pit where you continuously poor money! The Thames in London is particularly aggressive on boats due to the tide and constant river traffic. Boats that normally sit at a quiet marina berth on the South Coast are ripped to pieces when left alongside a pier in Central London for a day or two. This and the fact that Londonís boats are very busy means the wear and tear is significant.

Different boats require varying amount of care and repair. Boats specifically designed for sightseeing and private charter Ė i.e. continuous use are generally far more robust with steel hulls, reams of fender and engines capable of continuous operation.

Prettier boats on the Thames in London generally require more attention to remain looking so! Wooden hulls require more frequent maintenance and less fenders, and rubbing strips mean more opportunities for damage to be caused. The small RIBís are great having basically inflated tubes around them, but hit one of them to hard and it will be puncturedÖ

Fibreglass is about the worst material as it is light and easily scored, broken and shattered. This means where most boats can take the odd nudge here and there and come away with merely a few grazes a fibreglass hull tends to require a lot more attention!

Grounding can also cause obvious problem with a hull and propulsion system especially if their isnít protection built into the boats hull.

The more traditional type of propulsion, i.e. a propeller, has occasional problems picking up stray ropes which then wind themselves around the boats prop shaft often melting into a lovely lump before halting the prop!

Waterjets are a very safe and powerful means of propulsion used on all shapes and sizes of craft from the London Jet Boat, which does spins and zips about the river, through to the river buses continuously serving Londonís commuters. The nature of a water jet is that it sucks in water and pumps it out to create drive for the vessel which of course means any floating debris also gets sucked in. This can cause problems when for example a log or plastic lid gets wedged in the inlet and restricts water flow. Often back flushing can solve, but when it is well and truly wedged divers are required. In fact divers have a lot of action on the river.

Generally these problems rarely cause affect to clients on charter and crew are well trained in dealing with almost any situation including things like loss of steering, electrical faults and loss of power.

In-terms of annual maintenance boats generally go to dry dock where they are taken out of the water and given a full overhaul including re-painting inside and out, deep cleaning, new fender and rubbing strips as well as inspections to ensure all is well both above and below the water line. Often refits such as new wash rooms and new dance floors are also done during the dry docking period.

The boats on the river Thames in London are among the best kept in the World. Europeís legislation on standards and safety are led by that of the boats on the Thames in London. You can be assured you are in one of the safest places in the World when aboard a Thames passenger boat!

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Keith McGregor is a partner of Strawberrysoup, a web design agency with offices in Chichester and Bournemouth. Strawberrysoup specialise in creative web design, content managed websites, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing and graphic design

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