Narrowboat grounded on Ribble Link

Published: Thursday, 24 September 2020

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IT NEEDED two lifeboats to rescue a narrowboat grounded on the Ribble Link as the tide went out. (Photo RNLI.)

Engine failure caused the boat to run aground whilst making her way up the Ribble to Preston Dock on Tuesday, being grounded three miles away from its destination, Jan Green reports.

Stuck for seven hours

The couple in the boat were stuck there for seven hours in darkness until the incoming tide allowed access by the two lifeboats.

The Lytham St Annes Inshore Lifeboat crew assessed the situation of the two people stranded on their boat, checking that the occupants were safe and the boat undamaged, but were unable to remove it until the high tide some seven hours later.

Get unwieldy narrowboat afloat

Eventually, the inshore lifeboat was joined by the station’s all-weather lifeboat as the tide rose and managed to get the unwieldy narrowboat afloat and into the river channel.  With no engine, the boat had to be towed up to Preston Dock.

The darkness, the size and type of the vessel, and the high 9.9m spring tide roaring into the estuary risked causing a very dangerous situation, as did numerous half submerged trees floating in the river, having washed off the river banks upstream of Preston.

Lock gate failure

The two lifeboats did eventually managed to get the stricken boat to Preston, but it was another lock with gate failure resulting as the RNLI spokesman remarked ‘a case of threading the needle’.  Helmsman, Ben McGarry remarking:

“It was a difficult service with trees and debris in the river and the strength of the tide causing the disabled boat to swing around as she came afloat. The failure of one of the lock gates was just one more difficulty we encountered but all ended with the casualty safely berthed in Preston Dock.”

Utter stupidity

It was agreed that it was utter stupidity to attempt a crossing of the dangerous Ribble estuary in a narrowboat at a roaring 9.9m high tide and the boat could easily have been swept out to sea and capsized in such a current, even with an engine at full power.  And who allowed access to such a tide?

It was way back in 2016 when River Canal Rescue warned of the dangers of the fast flowing river crossing, having risked the lives of its people to rescue another that had become grounded.