Friday, September 09, 2011


A single boat coming down got the rudder stuck on the cill. The lady operating the paddle was struggling to get it up let alone lower it in a hurry. She was using one of those ratchet windies that had to be reversed. The boat took on water at the front, leaned over and went down leaving the back end up. Everything inside was crashing on to the floor! Ann happened to be walking Molly past the lock at the time. She came running back to get me to ring BW. The emergency number is 08004799947 and is printed on our licence holder. "There is a boat about to sink in a lock", "Which one?", "Second one down from Stoke Bruerne", "What canal is that on?", "The Grand Union", "How do you spell Bruerne?"
A while later BW rang back wanting to talk to the owner. By the time I had got up to the lock a BW man had already seen the situation and actions being considered. Our friend Ray had got up there to help and the centre rope had been tied up to a bollard to prevent the boat doing further damage. An attempt to refloat the boat only resulted in more water going in so the bottom paddle had been left up with the lock empty. It was quite distressing to see such a sight in reality and I told the owner that I would not take pictures out of respect. By this time Rose had made cups of tea and sandwiches for the owners. Ann gave their 20 year old cat some tuna to eat.
It was decided to lower the pound between lock 15 and 16. This would enable the boat to be pumped out. By now the top and bottom locks had been padlocked and a stoppage notice issued. Several boats including ours had to go down the previous lock and some went down a few more. The water was flushed out of the pound which went down by about 2 feet.
Both the gas bottle and well deck scuttles were blocked with wood. With several ropes and many men pulling on them with the lock paddle opened the boat was refloated and the people watching all cheered and clapped. Once the lock was filled the boat was pulled out backwards.

The emergency had kicked off at about 9:30 and by 2:30 in the afternoon we were able to continue our journey through Stoke Bruerne and the tunnel.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Goodness me! We heard about it via waterscape - it must have been quite frightening even watching it all unfold, let alone for the owner. I'm afraid I assumed that it was a hire body crewed by novices.