A Guide To The Local Knowledge Endorsement

Published by Georgie Baker 18 days ago

Have you ever been looking out over the river Thames, seen our red rockets fly by and dreamt about jumping onboard and taking it for a spin? While our skippers make it look easy, driving a speedboat in London for the general public takes a lot of training, qualifications and the possession of a license called the Local Knowledge Endorsement, usually shortened to LKE.



What is the Local Knowledge Endorsement?

The LKE is a license that skippers (boat drivers) must get if they operate commercial vessels in busy inland waterways or ports. The endorsement literally tests your local knowledgeof the Thames and ensures anyone with the license is fully prepared for anything they may encounter on the water.


How can I get my Local Knowledge Endorsement?

The LKE assessment is an oral exam which will include questions on the waterways and the relevant vessels youll be driving.

Before you can apply to sit the assessment, you need to hold a commercially endorsed license for the vessel type you will be handling. You also must have evidence that youve shadowed an experienced skipper for at least 60 days in the Thames knowledge area.


Do I need to get my London Local Knowledge Endorsement?

If you carry or tow passengers between Margaretness and Putney Bridge then yes, you will need an LKE. This is because that area of the Thames is considered the most challenging.

If you do not carry passengers and you are only using your vessel recreationally, you most likely wont require the LKE. The exception to this is if you have applied for a Certificate of Compliance to exceed the 12-knot speed limit between Margaretness and Putney Bridge.


What is getting your Local Knowledge Endorsement like?

Our youngest ever skipper, Alex, has very recently passed his Thames LKE. We sat down with him to find out what its really like…


Why did you decide to do the Local Knowledge Endorsement?

I always wanted to work in London on the Thames and on speedboats in particular! I was at a crossroads in my career as I already had my powerboat license (this is like a driving license but for boats). It requires a course that teaches you the basics of boat handling and safety. There are four main levels (level one, level two, intermediate and advanced) so I could do more training at that level or upgrade my license and become a skipper on the Thames.

It seemed like a natural progression to go for the LKE and blasting around on speedboats all day sounded like a very fun job!


How did you get into Thames Rockets and a career on the water?

It all started at my local sailing club, they offered to put me through my powerboat level two training and I jumped at the chance! This meant that while I was still at school, I was able to work a summer job running self-drive boats that customers would come and rent.

As I got more involved in that I realised I was interested in the skipper side of things, that company then trained me up to be a skipper on their tours using electric boats. However, this was in Marlow on a part of the river that had a speed limit of 5 knots! I was looking for something a bit more exciting and thats where Thames Rockets came in.

I always knew about Thames Rockets and their great reputation so thought if I did want to work on the speedier side of things, I definitely wanted to work with them. Thames Rockets require an advanced powerboat license so I went to Southampton for my training and then was able to do the LKE with their help.


What did you find the most challenging about getting the Local Knowledge Endorsement?

Definitely sitting the exam. Even when you feel confident that you know everything it can be quite daunting to go and sit face to face with the Port of London Authority (PLA). When youve worked so hard to get your 60 days of experience and spent so many hours training, to think it all rests on the last exam is scary! The two hours before the exam was definitely when I was most nervous but it ended up going well, the PLA were lovely people and made me feel at ease.

All in all, I really enjoyed the whole process, Id definitely say it was worth it! Im excited for the next stage of my career and to really get stuck in at Thames Rockets.


Has Alex inspired you to become a Thames Rockets skipper? Apply to join our team here!


For more information on the Port of London Authority (PLA) and the Local Knowledge Endorsement click HERE. 

Has all this talk of speedboats got you in the mood for a trip? Book with us HERE!

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