River Avon rescue update

Following the failure of the Twerton sluice gates on the river Avon on Tuesday evening (15 Sept), River Canal Rescue has performed a logistical miracle, pulling teams and equipment together, at short notice, to recover 47 boats.

Managing director, Stephanie Horton, reports three boats, moored near steep banks between two weirs, have sunk and six are at risk of sinking. The remainder are stranded due to parts of the river completely drying up.

“One of our members alerted us to the situation midday Wednesday, and then the CRT took control and asked us to manage the recovery process. Given the number of craft at risk, we pulled in engineers from around the country, re-juggled their priorities and started amassing extra equipment and getting everything in one place,” explains Stephanie.

Despite supply issues created by the Covid climate, RCR met its deadline of Thursday to source and have all equipment on site and prepared for recoveries from 6am Friday. Additional items, to find in less than 12 hours, included: 20 bilge pumps and batteries, six Tirfor lifting and pulling machines, 100 metres of rope and 60 metres of hose. 

RCR’s senior management team was also onsite on Thursday to assess the situation, undertake risk assessments, bring all stakeholders together and outline their next steps.

Engineers and office staff arrived at 6am Friday and by 8.30am the first sunken boat was raised. Number two followed by 10.30 and the third, it is hoped will be raised in the afternoon. Stephanie continues: Vessels in a perilous position are our next priority and we are confident that by Sunday, every grounded boat will be up and floating again.    

The Environment Agency has agreed to cover the costs incurred by those affected by the incident.