Saturday, 15 November 2014

RCR raise vessel that has been stranded in lock for 2 weeks

After two weeks of being stranded in lock 10 of the Kennet & Avon canal, nb Langton was raised in a two-hour refloat by River Canal Rescue on Friday 14 November, 24 hours after the emergency assistance firm was called in to help.
On the day of its call-out, RCR sent a team to assess the boat and submitted documentation to the Canal & River Trust’s third-party works engineers to secure approval for the recovery.  Both parties worked into the evening to ensure all health & safety issues were addressed and a refloat could take place the next day.
Despite earlier recommendations to use lifting equipment or heavy plant- solutions, RCR was confident the recovery could be made with manpower, ropes and pumps.  
As the vessel was caught on the cill and lying at an angle, it was secured and stabilised prior to raising the lock’s water levels.  The rescue team entered the lock, sealed all water entry points and used tarpaulins to cover or ‘bag’ the front of the boat.  They also cleared the environmental spillage so the lock could be used as soon as they finished.
Having pumped out the water in the boat, the lock was re-filled under the watchful eye of RCR’s Rescue Co-ordinator, Trevor Forman, and the lock keeper to ensure water was at the correct flow for a steady refloat.  Once recovered, Langton was moored in the lock for checking and any remaining water removed.  It was then butted to another boat and taken to a nearby base by its owners.
Trevor comments: “We used ropes to restrict movement without any undue stress on bollards and the natural water movement in the lock to support the refloat.  This was a ‘text book’ rescue – we were four hours on site with a two-hour recovery – which proves with the right experience and expertise refloats can be achieved quickly and without too much disruption to the navigation system.  There were planned closures for this area of the K & A, so the incident affected very few boaters.”
Carl Cowlishaw, Anglo Welsh Operations Manager, concludes: “We can’t praise RCR enough – we were very impressed with their work and although we hope not to have to use them again, we wouldn’t hesitate in doing so.”
To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit or phone 01785 785680.


River Canal Rescue fire update

Following the fire at Staffordshire-based SP Fireworks on Thursday 30 October, River Canal Rescue is currently working from a temporary office.  Emergency and general enquiry lines are operational but on divert to mobiles - the main switchboard number is 01785 785680.
All mail is being re-directed to the new location so correspondence can continue to be posted to RCR at 10 Tilcon Avenue, Baswich, Stafford ST18 0YJ or Freepost NAT 11249, Stafford, Staffordshire ST17 0BR.
Despite the stores and offices being gutted, Managing Director Stephanie Horton is confident the breakdown and assistance firm will be up and running by spring - in time for the start of the boating season. 
She comments: “The fire wiped out stock we’d built up since 2000– refurbished items and pieces of equipment which are no longer produced.  However, we’ve started ordering base levels of stock so we can tick over and once we move into more permanent premises, we’ll be able to build upon these.  We would welcome donations of any parts that need refurbishing to help us build the essential stocks needed to support our customers. 
“Thankfully, essential stock, such as fan belts, filters and general breakdown parts was held in our eastern and southern stores and our engineers have a supply of fan belts, filters etc on their vans, so we can still supply these items very quickly.   Certain replacement parts are likely to take two to three days longer than usual as we are reliant on third-party suppliers, but we will endeavour to provide an uninterrupted service where we can.”
Stephanie concludes: “Although these are difficult times, we have contingency plans in place and a fantastic team to ensure the business continues running.   This coupled with the goodwill of the boating community gives me confidence for the future and I thank everyone for their messages of support.”

The team will not return to its original location as the area is being bull-dozed.   Stephanie is therefore keen to hear from anyone who has a canal-side property in the Staffordshire area to rent.   

Friday, 26 September 2014

River Canal Rescue picks up the pieces

Preston Fire & Rescue recently attend a fire on a 57ft Stephen Goldsborough boat – No 3 Gulliver – moored near lock 7 on the Lancaster Canal. Having tackled the blaze, however, the drama didn’t stop there as Stephanie Horton, Managing Director, River Canal Rescue explains:
“The craft was completely gutted so in order to contain the debris, it was put in lock 7 of the canal.  Unfortunately, due to the amount of water it had taken on, it sank blocking the pathway of boats booked for passage on the Ribble link.  Twelve boats were diverted to nearby Preston marina, leaving them with potentially ruined holidays.
“Mindful we had a race against time, within two hours our engineers and a local contractor, Steve Altham - who undertook the environmental clean-up - were on site, had raised the boat and contained the spillage.   The following day, the vessel was secured onto lock moorings and the lock was cleared, allowing the Canal & River Trust to wave through the backlog of boats before the tides changed and access to the link was no longer available.”
RCR then worked with the CRT and Environment Agency to co-ordinate the vessel’s removal, which due to its potential environmental impact on the waterways had to be lifted from the lock, posing location and access issues.
Steph continues: “We waited until the tide changed and the Ribble link was no longer in use, then craned it onto a low loader.  Further investigations revealed an electrical fire in the engine room - the owners were lucky to escape without injury.”
As RCR is an approved repairer for the boat’s insurer – Navigators & General – the claim was dealt with speedily leaving owners Keith and Jennie Riley to reflect on the experience.  “Although this was an awful experience, it showed us the good side of human nature,” commented Keith.  “We’ve been well looked after by all the people who had anything to do with us, including the fire service, lock keepers, Red Cross, RCR and our insurers.”
The couple plan to continue cruising the waterways as soon as they’ve found a replacement boat.

To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit

RCR – the good Samaritan

River Canal Rescue recently came to the aid of a boat owner undertaking a triple heart bypass whose 45ft narrow boat Rosalie sunk three times on the Lancaster Canal. 
Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, explains: The first sinking in April was due to a rust hole in the water tank.  Having duly raised the craft we inspected it, made it secure and moored it on the Lancaster Canal near bridge 35.  As this was not an insurable claim, the owner was advised the craft needed to be lifted out of the water for repairs and he would be liable for the bill.
“Unbeknown to us, the owner had been ill and was unable to pay the lift out costs for the vessel.  Two months later, in June, it slid away from its moorings and sank again, whilst the owner was in hospital.  This meant that when the Canal & River Trust tried to contact him, advising it was obstructing the pathway and removal costs would be around £4k, they didn’t get any reply.
“The CRT has an obligation to clear the waterways and keep them safe for other users, so the vessel was raised once more. The contractor advised it had a hole in the hull and would need to be lifted out.  Sadly, before further action could be taken, it sunk a third time, blocking navigation again.
“We contacted the owner’s carer and upon learning of his predicament, realised he could not arrange the raising, lifting out, transportation or disposal of the vessel, nor meet any of the costs incurred to date.   Having alerted the CRT to the situation and with the owner’s permission, we raised and transported the vessel to a local scrap merchant, absorbing the costs ourselves.
“Next step was to discuss with CRT the ‘writing off’ of their raising costs, due to the owner’s situation.  This was agreed and we’re now waiting for a scrap valuation.  As these were extenuating circumstances we’re happy to absorb the costs involved and delighted the CRT was able to do the same.”

Warm weather prompts record number of rescues

 The recent warm weather has prompted high numbers of boating enthusiasts to take to the water, resulting in a record-breaking season for rescues, reports River Canal Rescue.

During June and July the breakdown and assistance firm undertook an average of 140 rescues per week, 17% higher than its 2013 equivalent average of 122.  Weekly call-outs for these periods peaked at 190 this year and xxx last year. 

RCR Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “The heat wave certainly encouraged people to take to the water earlier in the season and in many cases, they and their boats have not been out for a while and appear to be over-looking the basic checks. 

“A small amount of preparation, such as; ensuring batteries are in a good condition, having a fuel service and checking the condition of cables could make the difference between making an unscheduled stop and carefree cruising.”

To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit

Grounding warning from River Canal Rescue

River Canal Rescue is urging boat owners to take care to avoid grounding.  Over the summer the breakdown and emergency assistance firm has attended an average of two call outs per week, instead of the usual one a month.  Craft on the River Thames and The Fens appear particularly at risk.
Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “The heat wave in June and July affected the water levels, creating a peak of call-outs at the end of July.  To reduce the risk of grounding, keep to the deeper channels, do not cut corners and only travel where there is adequate water.”
To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit


Key Diesels offers cash for parts

Diesel injection specialist Key Diesels is offering marine businesses money for old injectors, pumps or pipes.  It’s pledging up to £150 per injection pump, £10 per injector and even offering cash for non-serviceable items which can be used for spares.
The firm already has the largest range of stock held by a single supplier – carrying over 1000 parts for diesel injection engines - and recently purchased all the Lister and Petter Fuel Systems from Marine Engine Services and stock items for BMC engines from Calcutt Marine. 
Managing Director Stephanie Horton, however, says additional parts are always welcome:  “A number of fuel systems are no longer in production so it’s important to build up a surplus of stock for marine businesses. Those forgotten Beta, Vetus, Isuzu, Volvo or other parts could generate extra income with very little effort.”
Key Diesels has already had a positive response from contractors and its website – is being updated with stock items added on a daily basis.  Businesses keen to swap their parts for cash can call 01283 537958 or email

Breakdown and emergency assistance firm River Canal Rescue acquired Key Diesels earlier this year. To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit

Monday, 9 June 2014

Diesel Bug warning from River Canal Rescue

Breakdown and assistance firm, River Canal Rescue, reports an unprecedented number of call-outs across the country last week due to fuel contamination caused by water and diesel bug (an enzyme or bacteria that grows from water in the fuel).  Diesel bug is usually prevalent after winter or Easter, but it appears to be causing problems later in the year. 

Out of 83 call outs last week, nine were fuel related whereas the week before RCR attended 95 call-outs with no contamination issues. In a bid to combat the problem, RCR is offering a free 100ml bottle of Marine 16 fuel treatment to any boater who calls and requests a bottle on 01785 785680 during June. 

Managing Director Stephanie Horton, comments; "Many of the diesel bug problems appear to be after people have filled their vessel, so it could be a fuel supply issue.  We're keen to help people where we can which is why we're not putting a limit on the amount of Marine 16 we offer - it's free to boaters, usually retails at approx £5 and will treat a full fuel tank, the only cost is the cost of postage." 

Please note that if you are using another treatment we advise you to continue using this and not mix treatments.  

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

River Canal Rescue offers ‘New Marine Finance’ option

River Canal Rescue and its Canal Contracting department have entered into an agreement with finance provider, Hitachi, giving boaters access to quick and easy finance options.  The new facility will enable people to undertake boat improvements and engine replacement or emergency repairs when needed.
The borrowing limit is £25,000 which can be repaid over an agreed time of up to 12 years and a number of options, such as ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ and ‘Interest Free*’ periods are available.  Interest rates are as a little as 7.9%** depending on the amount borrowed and payback period.
RCR Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “If something goes wrong it’s not always easy to immediately get hold of the cash you need to put things right, particularly as very few loan providers lend money for boat maintenance and the process can be long winded.  Within two weeks of making this finance option available, five people successfully applied, allowing them to spread their costs and ease the financial pressure.” 
She concludes: “Loan quotes can be provided within minutes and applications emailed to users to complete online with an immediate response.  If you don’t have email or internet access, then paper applications can be provided too.”

To find out more or get a quote, call the Canal Contracting team on 01785 785685.  Plans are underway to make this facility available online. 
*Buy Now Pay Later and Interest Free options = up to 12 months.  If cleared within the period then no interest charged.  Otherwise APR 19.9%.
** Monthly repayments for a £7000 loan over three years at 7.9% APR = £218.17. 
£218.17 x 36 months = £7854.12.

Friday, 30 May 2014

River Canal Rescue launches Incident Care

In response to the increasing number of insurance related call-outs it is receiving, River Canal Rescue has launched a new Incident Care Service which helps boat owners manage their claims and recover costs* following an emergency.
The Service is run by RCR’s Canal Contracting team who take control of the insurance claim.   They get the boat out of danger and to a location where it can be worked on, identify the nearest facilities, provide a diagnostic engineer, arrange estimates for repairs, liaise with insurers and contractors, source and deliver claims forms and explain ‘next steps’ and how the claim will progress.
In 2013, the breakdown and emergency assistance firm was asked to help progress claims and liaise with insurers in 73%** of insurance call-outs, prompting RCR Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, to create the Service.  Since January this year, 86%** of insurance call-outs have been handled by the Incident Care team.
Stephanie comments: “Whilst insurers, in the main, are very good at progressing claims quickly, there’s still a fair bit of legwork often needed to get the claim to the stage where it can move ahead.  Getting the boat to safety and sourcing insurance information and repairers/contractors can be tiresome for people, particularly at what can be an emotional and stressful time, so we do it for them.
“By taking control of the situation we not only calm frayed nerves but reduce damage costs and speed up claims’ resolution, which claimants and insurers both appreciate.”
The service costs £50 which is usually added to the claim, however Stephanie reminds that call centre staff  are always available to advise free of charge, what to do next if there’s been an accident or the vessel is in danger, sunk, vandalised or had a fire, and offer assistance in getting back on track.
Call 01785 248793 out of hours or 01785 785685 to go direct though to the canal contracting team during office hours - lines are open 24/7, 365 days a year.  To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit
Notes to Editors
*Subject to policy terms and conditions.
**Based on 117 insurance-related call-outs received from Jan 2013 to Dec 2013, 85 call-outs used ‘Incident Care’, 32 did not.  85 as a % of 117 = 72.6%.    Jan – April 2014 51 insurance-related call-outs, 44 used ‘Incident Care’, 7 did not.   44 as a % of 51 = 86.2%.
Case Studies
Owner of a new 60ft wide beam 'Skylark' got caught in a lock on the Leeds and Liverpool canal and damaged rudder and skeg.  Required lift out for towing and repair – there were no dry docks available within a 30mil radius and a crane was arranged at a boat yard 10 miles away. 
Owner of 57ft narrow boat hit something underwater on the Bridgewater Canal and damaged the prop and stern tube, urgently requiring dry docking. 
Owner with a 30ft cruiser on the Bridgewater Canal – suffered problems with outdrive and required dry docking for repairs. 
Owner of a 35ft cruiser on the river Wey, smashed window, heavy rain caused boat to nearly sink. Engineer on site next day, boarded window and pumped vessel out.
Owner of 45ft narrow boat stuck in reeds near weir on the River Avon, rudder snapped off, rescued from location, arranged temporary rudder and recovered vessel to local boat yard.
Owner of a 40ft narrow boat on the Trent & Mersey canal reported boat sinking, arranged rescue team to attend and pump out boat and first aid – minimal damage

Owner of 60ft Narrow boat on River Nene, blown into the reeds and then grounded when trying to turn.  Rescue team on hand within 8 hrs, boat recovered, safely refloated and cruised to safe location.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Unreserved Apology to Mrs Pollard

Recently RCR was asked to provide photos for a television series which illustrated the dangers boaters faced in locks.  Due to a confusion over programme deadlines, we failed to consult with the owners and gain approval for their use prior to them being broadcast.  This lead to photos of Miss Pollard's vessel being shown without her permission.  We are very committed to our customers and are concerned when our actions impact upon them.   River Canal Rescue would therefore like to apologise to Miss Pollard for any distress the broadcast of her photo caused her and to redress the situation we have agreed to make a donation to the RNLI at her request.

In line with our policy to never allow the use of photos by third parties without the owners' prior consent, we would like to reassure other members that we will ensure their agreement is sought prior to any other images being used for publicity by third parties. As we failed in the instance, this is the reason for a public apology.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

River Canal Rescue acquires Key Diesels

Stafford-based inland waterway breakdown and emergency assistance firm River Canal Rescue has acquired Burton-on-Trent diesel injection system specialist Key Diesels.
River Canal Rescue is recognised as the ‘fourth emergency service’ for UK boaters and provides customers with replacement parts cover meeting the costs of specified parts and labour following an unforeseen breakdown.  Key Diesels is one of the UK’s top repairers and distributors of injection pumps, lift pumps and fuel pipes, and an authorised distributor of Delphi components.
The acquisition of 20 year-old Key Diesels illustrates how River Canal Rescue continues to go from strength to strength; the firm’s staff tally is now 27 (having grown from five in 14 years), it has a thriving apprenticeship programme and recently employed three new engineers and two apprentices.   
Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, says the merging of the two firms is a ‘great strategic fit’.  She comments; “By bringing the two firms together, we can address the issues faced by people across the country when diesel systems fail.  For example, there’s no price consistency - they differ from £300 to £700 for a BMC injection pump dependent upon location - and if a repaired or refurbished part fails, although it’s covered under a warranty, the labour costs to remove and refit another one, are not. 
“As the engine (which these parts support) charges the boat’s batteries and so supplies the power, a fast turnaround is crucial.  A typical wait for repaired or new parts is five to 10 days which is too long for a boat to be left without power.  We can now control these issues and deliver a more cost-effective service for our customers.”
This single solution approach of stocking and supplying all common marine parts with consistent pricing and a speedy turnaround also meets the needs of marinas and contractors who have pledged to use River Canal Rescue and its new subsidiary for their diesel system requirements.  And with expertise and the parts now so easily accessible, River Canal Rescue is currently training all of its engineers in this area.
Four Key Diesel staff; head engineer Hugh Hudson, mechanic Steve Humphreys and apprentices Dave Moore and Shannon Andrea will be based at the existing office in Burton-on-Trent.  River Canal Rescue remains at its Stafford offices.
To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit


River Canal Rescue flood update

As river levels recede after their unprecedented rises, breakdown and assistance firm River Canal Rescue continues to be kept busy retrieving sunken, grounded and partially submerged vessels. 
From January 1 to the end of March, emergency assistance teams helped 43 boat owners on a number of canal and rivers across the UK, including the; Thames, Wey, Kennet & Avon, Leeds & Liverpool, Grand Union, Nene and Gloucester & Sharpness.  These types of rescues would usually be around 20 for the winter period.

The highest number of call-outs, 49%, was for help refloating sunken vessels.  Next came calls to release grounded boats (25%) which were displaced by high water levels and typically dumped elsewhere when river levels subsided.   “Unfortunately,” says RCR Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, “some were washed downstream and submerged or damaged.”

Requests for pump-outs to stabilise listing craft accounted for 21% of call-outs.  Stephanie continues: “All call-outs are time critical but in these cases, a swift response can help minimise damage and save a boat from some of the worst effects of the floods.”
She concludes: “Displaced boats wedged in new and often dangerous locations, craft crashed into bridges (in one case resulting in a sinking), ones overwhelmed with water and vessels in need of refloats were commonplace.  In many cases it’s waiting for that optimum time to undertake the rescue and the earlier we are made aware of stranded boats the easier it is to choose the right time to attempt a rescue.  Whilst this weather event has stretched our teams, we’ve never lost a boat yet and don’t intend to do so now.” 
To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit or phone 01785 785680. 
Case studies include
Queen of Hearts 70ft Narrow boat sunk at Abingdon
28ft Cruiser on river Wey damaged and sunk following a tree fall
57ft narrow boat broke mooring in high winds and came to rest against bridge on the Gloucester & Sharpness, and quickly sank due to the water and wind
57ft wide beam near Sonning, partial beach and partially sunk
Three cruisers stranded on bank in Staines in February, another three in March
50ft narrow boat partially grounded and partially submerged with the extra challenge of being under a wide beam neighbour
70ft narrow boat stranded on the bank
Cruiser stuck in a tree on Thames
Four cruisers on the Thames in Staines/Windsor area – submerged and refloated
Cruiser washed down river and found in Sunbury upside down – on refloat only half of the boat left
Cruiser at Beal Park and three narrow boats at Reading saved from sinking
Grounded narrow boat on river Nene
Partially sunken narrow boat on Trent & Mersey

Cruiser on Leeds & Liverpool sunk 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Changes to qualifying criteria for 2014 RCR Cruising Challenge trophy

Intrepid travelers keen to win the 2014 River Canal Rescue Cruising Challenge trophy (recognising the most enterprising non-continuous journey) can log journeys undertaken since the last Inland Waterway Association Festival rather than wait until the usual ‘beginning of year’ qualifying period.
RCR and the IWA have given entrants more time to log journeys to encourage greater exploration of the UK waterway system, particularly useful as participants receive additional points if they visit lesser-used waterways and reach distant end-of-navigations and inland tidal sections.
Anyone attending the Saul Waterways Pageant (23-25 August) and submitting their log in person, with or without boat, is eligible to enter. In the past, only those turning up with their craft could apply.
RCR MD Stephanie Horton said: “In previous years the timescales have been limited, making the more inaccessible parts of the system difficult to visit.  By extending the qualifying period from last year’s Festival to this new event, we’re providing entrants with greater flexibility when it comes to route planning and we’re opening the competition up to a wider audience.”
The only restriction for the RCR Cruising Challenge Trophy is that no section of canal or river may be counted more than once in the same direction in the same calendar month.  Entrants are required to supply a full cruising log at the 2014 Waterways Pageant, showing miles and locks, which must be supported with evidence (photographic or otherwise) of reaching key destinations during the cruise.  Judges will consider the log presentation and the overall cruise content, rather than the longest journey.
The qualifying period for the other two RCR-sponsored trophies; the Robert Aickman Challenge (most enterprising journey) and AP Herbert (longest journey) remains around eight weeks before the summer event and boat travel is required when submitting logs.  RCR will continue to give away a year’s free gold, silver and bronze memberships to the three trophy winners.
To find out more, contact Awards organiser Paul Chilvers on 07774 164413. Downloadable entry forms are available from the IWA website- - and information on River Canal Rescue is at


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Seek assistance before moving grounded boats says River Canal Rescue

Boat owners keen to move displaced vessels which have been grounded as a result of the high water levels are being urged to seek assistance before attempting to move them.  The advice comes from River Canal Rescue Managing Director Stephanie Horton who has found an increasing number of customers appear keen to take matters into their own hands.

She comments: “We recently had a call from the wife of one of our more elderly customers pleading with us to stop her husband from wading into the river Thames in order to try and free their 26ft cruiser which was listing severely due to its moorings being flooded and the ropes left too tight. 
“Having explained the importance of identifying the optimum time to undertake a rescue attempt and the associated hazards, the customer relented and decided to wait until one of our teams arrived on site to assess the situation. What started as an assessment visit ended up as a rescue – which we did for free.  Our customer still insisted on assisting us though!  He was so relieved his boat, which would have sunk, was saved he gave the engineer his new waders.  He only bought them in order to get to the boat.” 
Stephanie continues: “At the end of February, a boat owner jumped into the river Thames at Abingdon and swam after his 60ft narrow boat after witnessing it breaking its moorings.  Luckily a lock keeper saw what was going on and rescued the boat owner.  By this time however, the owner injured his arm and had to go to hospital.  He called us before seeking treatment as although between them they managed to secure the vessel, the boat had caught on something under the water.  When the engineer attended to see why the propulsion failed he found the prop shaft had come away when it hit something.”
She concludes: “It’s only natural to want to protect your boat and possessions but sometimes it’s better to take a step back and consider the potential risk to yourself and others who may have to rescue you.  RCR is here to help in an emergency; we have three teams and can be on site within hours if required ... so make that call first.”

To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit or phone 01785 785680.  

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Demand is high for RCR boat and engine maintenance courses

Boat owners interested in signing up for River Canal Rescue’s  two day Boat and Engine Maintenance courses this year need to book early as spaces are filling fast, advises Managing Director Stephanie Horton.
She comments: “A few spaces are still available on the 17-18 May course, however, demand tends to peak just before the summer and continues through to September.  We always receive a lot of enquiries via our stand at Crick in May, so it’s wise to book now to avoid disappointment.”
The courses cover basic boat engine maintenance and boat electric systems and suit all backgrounds, particularly DIY fans and those keen to develop their knowledge and skills.
Held at Alvechurch marina near Birmingham and run by Keith Duffy (ex RCR engineer) and Howard Williams (electrical specialist), classroom and workshop topics include; diesel engines, transmissions, boat plumbing, electrics, lay-up and re-fit procedures. 
To ensure participants gain more ‘hands-on’ experience alongside the theory, four engines are provided.
The Maintenance courses cost £100 and after the May session (April is fully booked), will be held on 12-13 July, 16-17 August, 13-14 September and 25-26 October. A follow-on course, Boat Electrics, taking a more in-depth look at marine diesel engines is also available at £130. 

To find out more visit call 01785 785680 or email

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The River Thames and a week of River Canal Rescue call-outs

News that parts of the UK experienced the wettest weather in January for more than a century - causing the River Thames water levels to reach a 10-year high - created an intensive period of activity for breakdown and assistance firm, River Canal Rescue. 
RCR Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, gives a snapshot of a typical week (17 Jan onwards) during that month:
“We received two call-outs for a 60ft narrow boat marooned and taking on water in Reading and a 20ft cruiser which had broken its moorings in Marlow and was stuck fast.   Teams were despatched, but found the first was inaccessible due to high flood water, the second was temporarily secured.  As high and fast-flowing water levels rendered rescues too hazardous, we had a number of spotters along the Thames reporting to us when river levels and water speed started to drop.

“Late afternoon, we’re notified of a 60ft narrow boat wedged on something under the water in Reading.  With river levels dropping, it’s likely to be left in a precarious situation.   Our rescue team attends next morning, but by this time, the boat had freed itself.  Team check craft, no charge made.
“It soon became apparent we would need two rescue teams covering the Thames.  Team one waded out, pumped water from and secured the listing narrow boat marooned in Reading, and then checked whether the Marlow cruiser could be released and taken back to its mooring.  No go on this, the water levels were still too high. 
“The team went onto two cruiser call-outs in Slough; a 22ft had broken its moorings, travelled down river and was grounded, the second, an 18ft, was grounded in the owner’s back yard.  Both vessels were checked over and refloated, and whilst RCR was there, came across two other grounded cruisers in neighbours’ yards.  These were refloated at no charge. 
“Team two, meanwhile, was assisting a 70ft narrow boat stranded on a bank near Abingdon bridge (having been made aware of the situation by local radio).  The team tracked down the owner, donned their wet suits and refloated the craft.  Optimum water levels helped this swift recovery.
“Calls to assist a sunken 30ft cruiser in Whitchurch followed, but flood waters prevented an immediate rescue attempt.  A few days later our spotters advised water levels were right to refloat the sunken cruiser and reunite the displaced Marlow cruiser with its owner.
“Whilst one team pumped out the sunken craft in Whitchurch and refloated it, a second took to the wetsuits and navigated a number of river hazards in order to get to the Marlow cruiser.  They spent hours dislodging it from trees, ‘first-aiding’ the engine and pumping out water before taking it back to its moorings and owner.
“Finally it was onto assist a sunken vessel – a floating cafe - at the Thames and Kennet Marina.  Despite our best efforts (using four pumps), our teams were unable to raise the vessel and are now waiting for the optimum water levels in order to use flotation bags.”
Stephanie concludes: “So many rescues in such a short space of time illustrate the importance of having access to a support mechanism.  It’s also nice to know we will support all waterway users if they’re in difficulties, as evidenced by our ‘freebies’.  We simply can’t help but help.”

To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit or call phone 01785 785680.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Breakdown call-outs up yet only 15% of boat owners have RCR cover

Boat owners looking to adopt New Year resolutions are being asked to consider River Canal Rescue membership.  The breakdown and emergency assistance firm estimates only 15% of owners are members, yet call-out numbers are increasing.
River Canal Rescue says out of the 70,000 or so boats currently registered on the waterways, only 10,500 have a 24/7 support mechanism in place, the remainder - 85% - appear happy to adopt the ‘it’ll never happen to me’ philosophy.
And with this year’s call-out levels topping 3700 by 1 December 2013 - 20%* higher than 2012’s overall tally of 3100 - RCR Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, says this is a risky strategy: “We assisted many owners who failed to service and maintain their boats before setting off on their first journey of the year, but this is really the tip of the iceberg.  The total number of people encountering problems must be huge.”
Maintenance oversights and failure to take out breakdown cover are often due to financial strain - however those with RCR membership consider it essential.  In a recent Facebook poll, RCR asked site visitors to identify the one thing they would not give up if their finances became stretched; 58% said RCR Breakdown Cover, 16% boat maintenance, a further 16% pet insurance and 10% car breakdown cover.   
Stephanie concludes: “Owners clearly value the peace of mind our cover gives over their own boat maintenance.  Whilst the majority may consider RCR membership an unnecessary expense, it’s worth remembering that if you do breakdown or require emergency assistance, the overall cost will be much higher.”

River Canal Rescue membership starts at £55 per year, four levels of cover are available and replacement parts cover is included or can be added to membership.  To find out more, visit or call 01785 785680.

Maintenance tips to reduce call-out tally

In order to avoid another year of ‘record-breaking call-outs’, River Canal Rescue is giving boat owners 10 maintenance tips to help keep their craft in a sound condition and ready for the rigours of winter and beyond.
From January to 1 December 2013, the breakdown and emergency assistance firm attended 3731 call-outs, 20% more than the previous year’s tally* which was up to the end of the year.  Calls spiked during June to August when an additional 100 breakdowns per month were logged. 
Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, says: “The number of breakdown call-outs were unprecedented.  The sun encouraged many boaters back on the water after years of poor weather, and as these boats had not been in use, it resulted in high numbers of vessels experiencing breakdowns.  In many cases, the call-outs could have been avoided if owners had undertaken some general maintenance, particularly before setting off on their first journey of the year. “
She continues: “Hopefully our maintenance tips will reduce the likelihood of owners having to contact us, ensuring their next holiday is an uninterrupted one.”
Top 10 maintenance tips
·      Check batteries are charging correctly and that the charge rate from the alternator to the batteries is as it should be.
·      Check the morse control is working correctly and that the throttle and gears are selecting smoothly.
·      Check you have enough fuel to complete your journey and inspect all fuel lines and shut off valves for leaks.
·      Check the condition of stern gland, ensure there’s plenty of grease supplied to it and that the prop shaft is turning freely.
·      Check the engine oil and gearbox oil levels and top up if needs be.
·      Check the condition of the fan belt.  If it’s worn get it replaced.
·      Check all coolant hoses for leaks and wear and tear. Replace if required. For raw water-cooling engines, check the seacock, impeller and filter and all pipe work for leaks.
·       Check the condition of the engine mounts. If they are worn replace them or if the bolts seem loose, tighten before cruising again (but only adjust the top bolt).
·       Check all bolts and connections are tight on the coupling.
·       Check the air filter and replace or clean as needed.

Stephanie concludes: “Only around 15% of boat owners have RCR membership so these figures are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the real number of people experiencing breakdowns.  Those without our support mechanism will be left to their own devices to rectify the problem so our maintenance tips could prove invaluable.”
As well as providing breakdown and emergency assistance support, River Canal Rescue offers Replacement Parts Cover, reimbursing owners for the supply and labour costs associated with the replacement of a failed part.  To find out more about this and other RCR services visit  email  or call  01785 785680