Henley Navigation

For most of the year Henley is a "keep to bowside" stretch of river. Crews going with the stream are central/bowside (starboard) and pass to the south side of Temple Island. If the weather is bad they can tuck under their bowside (starboard) bank for a little shelter. Crews going against the stream stick close to their bowside bank (cox's right), avoiding any tumble-down trees and banks. The bank opposite the towpath is marked at 250-metre intervals with short wooden posts which aids the planning of outings (similar markings are in place down most of the towpath, for coaches). Cruisers should be passed according to general UK navigation rules, ie leave them on your port side as you pass. Upstream of the bridge it is still keep-to-starboard, and crews should only cross between the islands where there is a large gap, taking care not to move into the path of a cruiser.
During the Royal Regatta and for a few weeks beforehand, a course marked by wooden booms is laid out, and the general circulation pattern changes completely. Crews going downstream normally row outside the booms, either close to the centre of the river or between the course and the southern (Berks) bank. Crews going upstream generally do so on the course itself.

All boats rowing in dusk or dark conditions must be lit with a white light at each end of the boat. Crews are wise to add a third light shining sideways from the bow of the boat to the bowside, as this helps show up where the low and muddy bank is. There are very few streetlights and night-visible markers on this stretch of river except the top, bridge area.

Other safety issues
By common consent launches are not generally used on this stretch of river for coaching. Coaches should bring sturdy bicycles and powerful megaphones for use from the towpath. Radio links come in particular handy on this stretch. As suggested on the weather page, during high river conditions it can become very dangerous to boat upstream of Henley Bridge, so boats may need to be walked round from Henley RC for launching from Lion Meadow. Always take care not to hit Temple Island, scullers especially.

The Henley reach is not tidal, but floods quickly in winter. Obey Environment Agency and local club guidelines for boating and always seek local advice if you are unsure. If the river breaks its banks on the rowing stretch then crews should not be boating, and if it is flowing fast or high then going through Henley Bridge from either direction will be dangerous. In these conditions also avoid spinning too close to the locks and weirs at either end of the reach.