Sunday, 24 January 2010

Midnight Boat Rescue on the River Trent.

The following is a report on the dramatic rescue of a stranded boat. The rescue was not easy but was successfully concluded as can be seen below.

Late on Friday 21st Jan a 57ft narrowboat and its crew left Torksey lock to travel to Newark using the river Trent which, although swollen, was navigable. The crew hoped to make it to their destination before dark however, approximately 45 mins in to the journey, and having passed under the A57 bridge, they headed to a tight 's' bend in the river. They navigated the first right hand bend successfully but as they reach the second bend they lost drive and suddenly found themselves grounded.

They were in relatively deep water and there were no signs of an obstruction but try as they might they were wedged tightly and could not escape…. as time went by they realised that the tide was going out leaving them even more stranded.  As the river dropped it revealed a submerged wall to be the unknown obstacle.

With no road access or mooring locations for miles they contacted the emergency services who dispatched Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire fire brigades. When they arrived on site the decision was taken to remove the crew from the boat and get them to safety. British Waterways was then contacted to see if they could assist in getting to the vessel before the next high tide at 1am in order to refloat it.

Unfortunately BW were unable to put together the required team, and suggested that RCR (the AA of waterways) was called in. RCR received a call at approximately 8.30pm, and although the boater was not a member, and this is not an event covered by their membership, they mobilised a crew to attend.

Working at night on a river in flood and combining this with a rising high tide encompasses many dangers and the decision was taken to dispatch three personnel (K.Horton, P.Barnet, & T.Forman) to undertake the rescue of the boat in a 4 x 4 Landover to ensure they could get to the isolated location.

The tide was due to start running at 10.30 and the aim was to get a rescue boat in the water before this so that the engineers could get aboard the narrow boat and assess the situation.

Having used satellite images to identify exactly where the boat was located and the off road tracks that led to it, they headed though North Clifton to the river, and launched the rescue boat. The Land Rover picked up the dirt track and began to follow the river aiming to meet at the boats remote location. Unfortunately the fire rescue vehicles and a combination of heavy rain resulted in a very poor driving conditions and the engineers finished the journey on foot.

The boat had been equipped with blue flashing beacons to warn of its presence by the fire brigade and was easily located. Once the engineers arrived at the boat, and secured it with ropes, they checked the engine was running smoothly and then with the tide starting to rise they began the delicate task of releasing the boat from the wall, with the guide ropes ready should the tide try to twist or roll the boat.

At approximate 11.30 the engineer called to say the boat was free and had been successfully turned around and was cruising up to the floating pontoon at Durham Bridge (A57). The engineer was on this and was to pick up the crew from the St Johns Ambulance van where they were being cared for after their ordeal.

By 11.50 the crew were finally reunited with there vessel and the engineers loaded up the rescue boat and finally headed home after a job well done.