Thursday, 13 December 2012

10 mins and then she was on the bottom.

From the rooftops of the buildings opposite the river, builders spotted a narrow boat whose stern appeared to be sinking, but by the time they got down and raised the alarm the vessel had already sunk to the gunnels. L R Harris at Syston quickly notified the owner and obtained a pump, in order to try and rescue the boat. 
When the owner returned unfortunately it was already too late to rescue his beloved parrots, and although he waded waist deep in freezing water it was obvious that the cages were well below the water. As a live abound the owner had taken great care of the boat and only recently had a hull survey completed. Everyone was at a loss to explain the cause of the sinking, other than the heavy and persistent rain fall over the past few days.  
LR Harris battled all day to try to raise the boat but to no avail and as light faded they called RCR to see if their rescue team were available.  With the light gone the team were prepped to attend the following day and armed with 4 pumps hoped to get her refloated.
RCR’s team immediately set to with the pumps, but after several hours were still not making the headway they had expected. More water was appearing than disappearing! Searching the vessel they found a number of vents, and the owner notified them of a couple more on the outside of his boat. By blocking these they started to gain momentum but still water was pouring and the source could not be located.
Working in freezing temperatures and waist deep in water for hours, and with work not progressing as it should the team called a halt. When they did it took only 28secs for her to sink back to her previous position. The following day, having discussed possibilities and options, they returned to site to try again. This time they removed sodden items from the boat to reduce weight, blocked holes and vents, and used a winch to assist in lifting the stern. With the help of local boaters and all pumps working at full capacity within a few hours the boat finally came up.
Unfortunately she was still taking on a large amount of water and at risk of sinking again, so the team took the option of grounding her in LR Harris pound. This where the rest of the heavy items could be removed so that she can be hoisted out of the water and a full investigation as to the cause undertaken.
LR Harris staff and the local boaters supplied ample warm drinks and helped keep everyone’s spirits high despite the circumstances, and with a strong community spirit are committed to helping the owner get back on his feet.

Stranded Dutch Barge

River Canals Rescue’s specialist rescue team were called out to see if they could help the owner of a Dutch Barge which, due to severe flooding, had become stranded on land as the flood waters receded.
Mrs Brooksmith, the owner of the barge, was informed by EA that, due to flood waters raising the river levels by over 4ft, her boat had floated free of its moorings and come to rest across the back gardens of two waterside properties in Wansford, Cambridgeshire.
The intense rainfall had caused an unexpected and unusual rise in river levels and as a result many vessels were stranded. However the 70ft wide beam Dutch barge looked to present the biggest challenge. As waters receded and the river began to return to normal specialists were brought in and the cost of the rescue started to escalate quickly.
EA suggested the Mrs Brooksmith called Canal Contracting and RCR to see if their specialist team could come up with any alternative ideas. Having carried out an initial investigation it was clear that due to the boats location, and the access to the front of the house, there was impossible for a crane to gain access to the vessel on the village side. The pasture land opposite was saturated and would not hold a crane even with track laid across the two fields unless they waited until the land had drained and dried out considerably.
With the water receding  the possibility of getting the vessel refloated were not improving, the best option was to attempt to pull the boat back in to the river. However, with no water under her and a sodden field opposite it was going to take a miracle. Trevor the CEO was in attendance at the rescue and his experience and expertise quickly thought of a possible solution, and with the help of local contractor Jim Boulton they set to work. 
First they removed the scaffolding and old mooring material out of the way to stop any damage to the vessel when it re-entered the water, and then located and organised for a Unimog plant vehicle to attend site. As one of the only vehicles that could deal with the saturated terrain, and one which also had the pulling power needed, the Unimog made quick work of hauling the bow in to the water, it was then simply a case of repositioning to allow the boat to enter the water safely.
Once reafloated the boat was checked over for damage and moved to a temporary mooring for safety until the river was once more navigable. The kind assistance of local residences and the caretaker of the land was instrumental in the successful rescue.