All hands to the pump; fears for Scottish canals; in favour of cycling; Norwood confusion
AFTER READING YOUR news article on boats in trouble ( CB, Jan), these are my memories of a boat rescue I was involved in.
Some of you will remember the long hot and dry summer of 1976 and the very severe winter that followed. A good friend of mine with a 22ft Dawncraft had moved to a new marina on the Trent near Cavendish Bridge, Shardlow. It was still under construction and the owners were installing floating pontoons. However, until these were ready, new residents were asked to construct bankside berths that could be removed as the marina developed.
My friend built his using scaffold poles and timber decking, the poles being long enough to manage the rise and fall of the river. As I was looking to move my boat, he suggested I move to a berth next to him. Again I used scaffold poles but made a floating pontoon that would rise with the boat. All this was during the summer. As the winter’s, heavy rain and snow caused the Trent to rise well above normal we got regular calls from the marina about problems developing.
When the flood started to recede I received an urgent call from my pal saying he had been to the marina and found his boat was on top of the scaffold poles and one had punctured the hull, was there anything I could do to help? He had climbed aboard and removed all the heavy items including the engine, but he was concerned that as the water dropped, the boat would tip over.
My business partner and one of our electricians were scuba divers so we collected what gear we thought necessary and managed to get onto the site. One diver kitted up and took a hacksaw to cut the pole under the boat, others climbed on board to fill the hole with a piece of carpet found on board. When the pole was cut, the carpet was hammered into the hole and bailing began with buckets and a small pump.
As the boat emptied and rose, it floated free of the other structures. There was a shallow concrete slip a short distance away so it was all hands to whatever paddles we could use to reach the slip and luckily the bung held and we were able to beach on the slipway. My friend and his family cleared out the rest of the boat and specialised contractors repaired the GRP when the water fell.
I wasn’t quite so lucky, my boat broke free after being moved and went on its own down the Trent until caught on bankside debris. I did recover it when the levels dropped. MIKE ATHERLEY, via email
The flood damage