Late night canal boat rescue in Lytham St Annes

A long drama ensued for a canal narrow boat making her way up the Ribble to Preston Dock when sudden engine failure forced her to run aground on the north bank, three miles from her destination.

The Holyhead Coastguard Operations Centre requested the Lytham St Annes Inshore Lifeboat assess the situation of the two people stranded on board their boat.

Checking the two occupants were safe, that the boat was undamaged by the grounding, and leaving them some bottles of water, the RNLI decided assistance would be given at high tide, around seven hours later.

In the evening, the inshore lifeboat was joined by the station’s all-weather lifeboat as the tide rose.

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.

The two lifeboats eventually managed to get the unwieldy narrow boat afloat and into the river channel. With no engine to assist, the boat had to be towed up to Preston Dock.

However, the evening’s drama didn’t end there. At the dock, the failure of one of the twin lock gates to open meant that the narrow boat was towed though one gate, ‘a case of threading the needle’ according to the RNLI.

“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,” says helmsman, Ben McGarry. “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.”

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