BEAST HITS THE CANALS

The ‘Beast from the East’ may seem a dis­tant mem­ory, but some boaters are stiff suf­fer­ing its ef­fects, as RCR re­port

Canal Boat - - CONTENTS -

Re­mem­ber the Beast from the East? Al­though it’s only a cou­ple of months ago as we send this is­sue to press, for most wa­ter­way users the ex­treme weather that hit the UK in Fe­bru­ary and March is hope­fully lit­tle more than a dis­tant mem­ory, as they en­joy some de­cent late spring boat­ing weather. But for those whose ves­sels which sank as a re­sult, its im­pact con­tin­ues to be felt.

From 2 Fe­bru­ary to 9 March, in­land wa­ter­ways break­down spe­cial­ists River Canal Res­cue at­tended 79 weather re­lated call-outs - rang­ing from failed bilge pumps and flat bat­ter­ies to split pipes and boats tak­ing on wa­ter - in an area cov­er­ing 350 miles. Dur­ing this five-week pe­riod, spe­cial­ist teams also raised ten sub­merged boats.

Here, some of the own­ers of those sunken ves­sels share their ex­pe­ri­ences of fall­ing vic­tim to the ‘Beast from the East’, and what they’re do­ing to stop it hap­pen­ing again.

Boatlife on the Ashby Canal

On 2 Fe­bru­ary, 23ft cruiser Boatlife was moored on the Ashby Canal. Due to heavy rain how­ever, three quar­ters of the craft be­came sub­merged. For owner Jonathan Wood­ward, this was the sec­ond time this hap­pened: “Un­for­tu­nately the canopy wasn’t sealed prop­erly and fol­low­ing heavy snow and rain­fall, wa­ter was able to get into the boat caus­ing it to par­tially sub­merge. This also caused the first sink­ing. RCR man­aged to suc­cess­fully raise the ves­sel, checks were car­ried out as a pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure and it was then moved to a se­cure lo­ca­tion where it could be lifted out.”

Tu­pelo Honey on the River Ouse

Three days later, Richard Vaughn re­ported his 33ft cruiser Tu­pelo Honey had sunk while moored on the River Ouse: “Due to the weather, the river was in flood and un­for­tu­nately the ropes se­cur­ing the boat to its moor­ings were too tight and as the river be­gan to rise, it took on wa­ter. The boat was at a very pre­car­i­ous an­gle with one side wedged in some mud (this was a heavy wooden boat). The team had to cor­rect the an­gle first and then they were able to pump out the wa­ter and suc­cess­fully re­float.”

Emily on the Leeds & Liver­pool

On 7 Fe­bru­ary, RCR was called to re­float Thomas Strange’s 27ft cruiser Emily, moored on the Leeds & Liver­pool Canal. As man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Stephanie Hor­ton ex­plains: “We be­lieve this par­tially sank due to heavy rain­fall as there was no breach in the hull. We at­tended and first used straps to level the boat out so the gun­wales were out of the wa­ter. A tar­pau­lin sheet was then used to seal up the out­board hole to pre­vent any fur­ther leaks. The boat was then pumped out and re-floated. Once the boat was dry, a bat­tery and float switch bilge were fit­ted to pre­vent the boat from sink­ing again.”

Sil­ver Dar­ling on the Grand Union

Six days later, John Rain­nie found his 32ft cruiser Sil­ver Dar­ling had sunk while moored on the Grand Union Main Line. “We’re not sure what caused it,” said RCR, “but we be­lieve it was due to snow block­ing the drainage holes. We pumped out all the wa­ter and got the ves­sel re­floated.” As is typ­i­cally the case with sunken ves­sels,

Sil­ver Dar­ling needed two new starter bat­ter­ies, en­gine ‘first aid’ (to pre­vent in­ter­nal rust­ing and cor­ro­sion of any other com­po­nents that may have been sub­merged), a starter mo­tor, two alternators and fuel clean­ing / re­place­ment.

Saxon Princess on the Grand Union

On 6 March, Darren Rushby, owner of 57ft nar­row­boat Saxon Princess, moored on the Grand Union Main Line, re­ported wa­ter had reached his boat’s gun­wales. Stephanie Hor­ton re­ports: “The boat showed no vis­i­ble signs of leaks or dam­age and the bilge pump was con­nected and op­er­a­tional. The bat­tery how­ever, may have failed and this cou­pled with heavy snow and rain­fall, we be­lieve, was the rea­son for the sink­ing.”

Eric the Rat on the Nene

Two days later, heavy rain­fall caused 33ft cruiser Eric the Rat to sink while moored at Billing Aquadrome, Northamp­ton. Owner Richard Den­nehy ex­plains: “The boat sank due to heavy rain­fall. Be­cause of the boat’s size and lo­ca­tion, this was not a sim­ple re-float and five of RCR’s team were de­ployed for this one. The boat was re­floated and a bat­tery and bilge pump were fit­ted.”

Angi­lika on the Re­gent’s

On 9 March, Michal Dufek re­ported his 28ft nar­row­boat Angi­lika, moored at St Pan­cras on the Re­gent’s Canal, had sunk. He ad­vises: “I’m sure it was to do with the plumb­ing, I be­lieve one of the pipes froze and then snapped. My bilge pump wasn’t work­ing. When it thawed, wa­ter started pour­ing in.” Stephanie Hor­ton con­cludes: “In­ci­dents oc­cur be­cause peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate the weight they are car­ry­ing and they fail to ap­pre­ci­ate there’s only a cou­ple of inches be­tween the out­let and the wa­ter sur­face. It’s re­ally im­por­tant to reg­u­larly check your boat and that the bilge pump is work­ing, and clear away any snow.”

River Canal Res­cue head out in win­try con­di­tions ear­lier this year

The re­sult of a com­bi­na­tion of a failed bat­tery, heavy snow and rain­fall

Nar­row­boat Saxon Princess is suc­cess­fully re­floated on the Grand Union Canal

RCR en­gi­neers work­ing to raise the cruiser Eric the Rat on the River Nene

RCR’s pumps get to work on re-float­ing Angi­lika

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