THE 'cilling' incident (Fell in lock after boat on cill—narrowboatworld 8/8/2012) is just one of several boating accidents that have recently resulted in boats sinking in locks, writes Allan Richards.
Waterways related Facebook sites and forums have reported a significant number of lock sinking incidents since Canal & River Trust took over responsibility from British Waterways.
As well as the incident in Chester already reported, narrowboat Mary 'M' sank in Hertford Lock (Lee Navigation) on the 19th July with the recently widowed single handed owner reported to be 'wet but unhurt'. The photo, reproduced by kind permission of Dave and Jenny Roberts (one of many posted on the River Lee/Stort Boaters Group Facebook site) shows the boat being recovered on 1st August after almost two weeks of being fully immersed.
Whilst local boat owners have offered help, the current whereabouts of the owner is not known. The reason for the sinking is also unknown with the owner saying 'it all happened so fast'.
The question as to why it has taken so long to recover the boat remains unanswered.
Leeds & Liverpool
In early August a private boat, Alecia, 'cilled' and turned on its side in a lock near Chorley on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal with the crew reported to be unhurt. It is understood that the boat had only been purchased the day before.
Llangollen hire boat sinking
On the 30th July, the Anglo Welsh hire boat Conway, sank in Quoisley lock. Whilst there has been some speculation that the bow fender hung up on a gate an Anglo Welsh engineer has blamed 'cilling'.
A third report suggests that open paddles at both ends of the lock were to blame with severe turbulence causing water to enter the engine compartment.
However, the photo, reproduced with permission of 'GoodGurl' (a member of Canal World Discussion Forum) gives weight to the suggestion that the rear fender 'hung up' on the cill.
Conway was re-floated within a few hours.
Second hire boat sinking
A few days later a second hire boat sinking occurred on the Llangollen.
On the 6th August an Alvechurch hire boat, Wrenbury Goose, sank in Grindley Brook Staircase. Whilst the reason for sinking is not known some have speculated that a known cill protrusion was to blame. However, other reports suggest that the defect was in the middle chamber whilst the accident took place in the lower chamber.
Lack of tuition
Of course, the almost automatic reaction to any incident involving a hire boat is to blame hirer's inexperience and lack of tuition.
There may be an opportunity for CART to liaise with hire businesses, with volunteers giving more detailed tuition on locking and even boat handling.
Health and safety
Six months ago, British Waterways' Operations Director, Vince Moran, told CART's trustees that implementing Minimum Safety Standards across the network in 2008 and 2009 at an initial cost of £20m had a noticeable effect on reducing the number of visitor incidents involving its infrastructure.
With twelve of the 47 safety standards relating to locks (including the one that demands 'three bollards at every narrow lock' for our safety!) one is left wondering if he would make the same claim today.
One would hope that CART would take the lead and investigate this sudden rise in lock incidents as a group. Even a conclusion that it was a statistical anomaly would be better than not knowing.
However, one suspects that CART has already made up its mind to ignore the rise. As a CART spokesperson told a local paper 'Incidents like this are very rare...'
Perhaps true for British Waterways but not for Canal & River Trust it seems.