RCR have been involved in the dramatic rescue of a narrowboat on the River Soar at Ratclife in Nottinghamshire which saw their boat got caught by the current in the swollen river. The stretch on which the boat became stuck was a backwater taking excess water from the canal and, due to the recent heavy rain, was expected to rise even further during the hours shortly after the incident.
Thankfully the boat came to rest on the edge of the wear but this was directly under a concrete bridge. The result was just a few inches of clearance between the boat roof and the bridge. With levels continuing to rise the situation was likely to only get worse.
The fire brigade attended to rescue the crew on board, and RCR received a call from Nottingham fire brigade Chief, Mr Brambley, to ask if RCR could assist? RCR arranged for a tug and local contractors Redhill to attend whilst a rescue team were scrambled. When the team arrived Redhill had already got ropes on to the boat and brought in a JCB to help pull the boat. Due to the heavy rain and resulting high water levels the current was so strong the tug had little chance of pulling the boat on its own. The RCR team coordinated the rescue and manoeuvred the vessel whilst the tug and JCB took the strain.
As can be seen in the photos the weir is on a sharp bend off the main river, and with poor access the job was split in to two halves. Firstly, the aim was to get the boat off the weir, which was accomplished in stages. Weeds hampered the rescue and grounded the vessel on a number of occasions. but finally the boat was free of the weir and the bridge and was moored up for the night. Unfortunately the tug too had a few issues and with a fouled prop and had to be moored up as well.
The following day the rescue team and Redhill marine retuned to site and, after negotiation with local farmers, were able to get access (via the field) to the tow path on the main river. As there were approx’ 100mtrs between the boat and the towpath, the team used some novel techniques to string a rope between the two. By employing a tractor they then pulled, first the tug and then the vessel backwards against the current on to the main waterways. - a 5 hr exercise! The whole rescue involved a lot of planning and H&S assessments before the maneuver could take place.
Finally the boat was cruised back to Redhill’s moorings, but just in the nick of time as within an hour the river levels had risen by over a foot. It was then clear that if the boat had not been rescued it would have ended up either in the garden of the house adjacent, wedged under the bridge or down the weir.
The St John’s ambulance were on site taking care of the boat owners, and BW personnel assisted by closing the waterways and towpath to ensure that the rescue could be completed. The whole event caught the attention of the BBC’s local news team who filmed a report that was published on the BBC’s news website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-18736335