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.