Sunken party boat raised from K&A Lock

The Anglo Welsh narrow boat hired for a stag party which sank in a Bath lock, blocking the Kennet and Avon Canal for two weeks, has now been removed. It was the second lock sinking involving stag parties in the area this year, an Alvechurch hireboat sinking in March in reportedly similar circumstances.

Bath lock sinking 1After 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.

Bath lock sinking 2Having 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 breasted up 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.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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