Rowing on the Tideway

General safety information from the Port of London Authority about rowing on the Tideway can be found here.

PLA flag

Flag colour meaning

Flag colour meaning

For rowers, the meaning of the flags can be condensed into the following:

—Red– No rowing boat should go out 

—Yellow- Novice crews should not go out and senior crews must risk assess 

—Black– The water will be very low at low tide so be cautious in the inshore zone, when landing and when spinning at Richmond lock 


Weather updates

Kew Gardens

Syon House



tide times

Live high and low water tide times can be found here.

Guidelines for outing safety


  • Flood tide: the tide is moving INWARDS towards Richmond and takes 4 hours. Will eventually lead to high tide: lots of water and space on the river, not a lot of space to boat.

  • Ebb tide: the tide is moving OUTWARDS towards Putney (the sea) and takes 8 hours. Will eventually lead to low tide: very shallow and not a lot of room on the river, lots of space to boat.

Setting out/ landing the boat:

  • Always boat and land AGAINST the tide i.e. bow ball faces the oncoming stream

  • In an ebb tide: you will boat/land so you are sitting facing towards Richmond 

  • In a flood tide: you will boat/land so you are sitting facing towards Putney 

Restricted zones:

  • 75m either side of a bridge and crossing points

  • The following rules apply:

    • No stopping (unless in an emergency)

    • No turning

    • No crossing

    • No overtaking

    • No baulking (rowing deliberately slowly or doing exercises)


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Lights are to be displayed at all times of restricted visibility such as mist, fog, rain or snow and obviously at night time or early morning . If in doubt, use lights .

All rowing crews must have the following lights firmly fixed to their boat in low visibility .

• On the bow:
a flashing white light – flashing to determine direction of travel

• On the stern:
a constant white light

The lights must be visible for 800mand also be visible through 180°