Canal Boat - - This Month -

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

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