As the country continues to mop up from a series of storms and widespread flooding, River Canal Rescue says the narrowboat pinned against bridge 30, north of Barrow Lock in the Proctor’s Park area, was due to record breaking flood water which dragged the boat, and the scaffold poles it used for mooring, a third of a mile away from its location on the river Soar.

RCR was called to assist, after the fire brigade was unable to help.

Managing director, Stephanie Horton, takes up the story: “At around 8.30am on Thursday 4 January, we were contacted and advised that the boat broke from its mooring in the middle of the night and was now resting against a bridge and at risk of capsizing.

“Within 20 minutes we had ‘eyes on the ground’ to assess the situation and possibility of recovering it.

“The gunwales on one side were underwater and with the surrounding area also under water and the river around three metres higher than normal, access to the boat was limited. Health & safety concerns and putting lives at risk prevented us from getting onto the boat, and attaching ropes to secure it, and in addition there was nothing to attach them to, other than the bridge as everything was underwater.

“Liaising with the EA and assessing flood conditions, it was predicted there would be a drop in water levels due later that afternoon, and after speaking with the customer to highlight the risks and possibility of recovery, a four-man team was dispatched to site, to coincide with the drop in water levels.

“As there were chains on the boat at the front and back, we used these to attach strops and a winch cable. The plan was to use vehicles and park on a drier side of the adjoining fields, and winches to pull the vessel out of danger.

“Having set up winches and ropes, we needed to keep the area clear. Cables under tension, pulling 10 tons of boat against a flow are under incredible tension and can potentially snap and with the possibility of them flying in any direction, it’s important there are no people around before we commenced operations, or if there are, they’re a safe distance away and within the 45 degree safe zone behind the winch.

“Unfortunately although levels were conducive, there were around 30 onlookers and despite our best attempts to move them to a safe distance, they continued to edge forward which hindered the operation.

“Our staff know that under no circumstances are they permitted to use winches and put people in danger, risking a potential decapitation, and we must have spent around 30 minutes trying to get people to move away from the area. At one stage, we thought about calling the police to help us clear the site.

“While trying to disperse the crowds and get them to move away from the working area, there was a unexpected surge in water levels and within five minutes the boat capsized. It all happened very quickly and our frustration is that if we hadn’t spent so long trying to move onlookers, we might have winched the boat to safety before the water surge.

“Nothing can now be done until water levels come down, which could be weeks, and this is a job requiring divers, who will not go in if there’s a flow on the river.

“The boat owner does not have insurance and having lost his home and his possessions, his family and friends have set up a fund raising page to help him pay for recovery and future costs.”

YouTube contributor Narrowboat Super B – aka Jim Moreland – has also set up a Go Fund Me page. – find out more on YouTube ‘narrowboat disaster at Barrow on Soar’.