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Latest news from River Canal Rescue


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Boat joy-riding on increase warns River Canal Rescue

With an increasing number of vessels being torched or taken by joy riders, River Canal Rescue is calling for boat and marina owners to be extra vigilant.

The firm typically deals with one to two burnt-out or vandalised boats a year, but in a six week period around September it was called out to three and in the last 12 months has salvaged 10.

Examples include a vessel on the south Oxford canal, stolen, grounded and abandoned. The owner managed to recover it before any further damage was sustained and RCR assisted with its re-float. This was the second incident RCR had attended in the local area.

Others include a 40ft widebeam set alight near Kegworth on the river Soar, burning it below the water line and causing it to sink.  Despite size and accessibility issues, RCR raised the vessel.

Two boats stolen on the Coventry and Trent & Mersey canals; in order to hide one of the vessel’s identity, thieves re-painted it while the other was vandalised and items were stolen.

RCR managing director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “The crime of joy-riding appears to be spilling from the roads onto our inland waterways, particularly on the Oxford, Coventry and Grand Union canals in a triangle from Nottingham via Braunston to Oxford and Warwick.     

“In the past boats were typically taken by people who wanted to steal outboards, batteries and anything that could be sold. They would however leave the vessel intact.

" But now their actions are akin to mindless vandalism and unfortunately, the damage is usually so severe and too large a project to take on, the burnt-out vessels usually end up being disposed of. This impacts on the environment and owner.”

" Because of the restriction on where boats can be taken, theft is considered low-risk by boaters and insurance companies. Yet they are easy to break into and easy targets for those with intent, particularly when you consider the time they are left unattended and how simple it is to change their identity. In the absence of any registration system, and criminals viewing it as an easy way to raise cash, I fear these types of crimes will continue to increase.”


In case you missed the story:
River Canal Rescue raises 110 year-old Sgùr Urain

A 110 year-old wooden screw lugger, believed to have been originally built for the Marquis of Bute in 1907 by John Adams & Son in Greenock, was successfully raised from the depths of Bray marina in Berkshire by River Canal Rescue (RCR) engineers recently.

Sgùr Urain - named after the battle cry of the Clan MacRae and derived from Sgurr Fuahan, one of five mountains at the base of Loch Duich - has been in current owner Simon Jones’ family since the 60s when his father, visiting Scotland on holiday, found her laid-up on the beach and bought her off a local fisherman.

In July Simon took her out of the water to replace a section of keel. Having been out of the water for a protracted period in hot weather, when re-floated there were, as expected, a number of leaks as the wooden planks took up water to seal the dried-out hull. Despite stabilisation by bilge pumps - and the staff at Bray Marina keeping a very close watch - a failure of the pumps overnight lead to her rapid sinking whilst at her mooring before the wooden hull had become water-tight.

Simon comments: “I was advised by a diver that air bags couldn’t be used to raise the craft as there was a very high risk the pressure would cause the hull to collapse due to her shape and weight and, while a barge crane was an option, it wasn’t available for at least a couple of weeks and came at very significant cost and risk of damage. I then came across River Canal Rescue and their engineers and support team were brilliant.”

RCR used a novel technique to raise Sgùr Urain within four hours – this involved making a plywood box to put over the front access hatch to create a vacuum, sealing the boat and then using high-pressure pumps to remove the water and refloat the vessel.

Managing director, Stephanie Horton, explains: “The key to a successful refloat is in the preparation and ensuring the vessel is sealed before attempting to pump out.  Our engineers also ‘first-aided’ the engine whilst on site to prevent corrosion and ensure that it would be functional in the future.”

To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit or call 01785 785680.