Boaters find they’re not covered for deluges

Three recent storms which brought sudden torrential rainfall across the UK sunk dozens of canal boats across our canals and rivers this Autumn and left many of the boat owners devastated to find their insurance didn’t cover recovery and replacement.

River Canal Rescue (RCR) is reporting an increase in the number of call-outs to recover submerged canal boats. In October Storm Babet alone was responsible for 13 boats succumbing to rapidly rising water levels on the Caldon, Chesterfield, Leeds & Liverpool and Leicester Canals, the Rivers Great Ouse, Soar, Trent and Weaver, and in Leicester Marina.

RCR also reported that over a seven-week period from the beginning of October a total of 35 vessels fell victim to storms Babet, Ciaran and Debi.

Managing director, Stephanie Horton comments; “With our winters predicted to become even wetter, it’s important to prepare for stormy weather and check your insurance is adequate. Over 40% of the rescues RCR has attended have had claims denied for differing reasons, including some where salvage is not included in the cover.”

“Boats either couldn’t cope with the deluge of rain, were unable to rise in line with increasing water levels due to too tight ropes, or in the case of one call-out, sunk after trying to turn in strong currents, ended up listing and catching a tree stump where water overwhelmed the vents. A number were swept down river when flood waters and flow increased, depositing them, semi- submerged and miles from their home location.”

Sinkings due to rapidly rising water levels are mainly on river navigations, or canals with river sections, but RCR also reports a number of sinkings on canals due to blocked craft drain holes, badly-worn deck boards and leaking stern glands resulting in water ingress.

“Engine bays covered by marine-ply deck boards are supported by a C-shaped steel channel with drain holes to collect any seeping rainwater. If the drain holes block with debris, leaves and dirt etc, water flows over the channel sides into the engine bay. Over time, the wooden deck boards decay, creating a wider gap between them, and so the downward spiral continues; more debris falls into the channel holes and more water flows into the engine bay. Prevent this by replacing worn deck boards and clearing drainage holes.

See our Advice on Keeping your Boat Safe During Extreme Weather and also Coping with Flooding on Canals and Rivers

Thanks to RCR for this information.

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