Boaters rescued in river drama

THE Lady in Red could have been a Lady in Pieces after the couple crewing her lost control of the narrowboat in the swollen waters of the River Great Ouse in St Ives. But newly-installed safety booms saved the two boaters, who are regulars on the river, f

THE Lady in Red could have been a Lady in Pieces after the couple crewing her lost control of the narrowboat in the swollen waters of the River Great Ouse in St Ives.

But newly-installed safety booms saved the two boaters, who are regulars on the river, from serious injury and their craft from serious damage.

The boat was lodged against the safety booms for nearly an hour before local boatyard owner Mick Jones was able to take a small motor boat to rescue the occupants, who were not aware of "strong stream advice" after heavy rainfall. The narrowboat was then pulled to safety by hand from the bank.

Mr Jones, whose family has owned the L H Jones boatyard for more than 60 years, told The Hunts Post: "It was too heavy for the tug, but it took four of us to pull the boat in from the bank. I don't think there was any great danger because of the new barrier - very much a plus for the Environment Agency."


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In 2006, the Environment Agency spent over £2million installing safety booms across weirs and sluices in the Anglian region, predominantly on the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse. The floating booms were installed to prevent boats and canoes getting swept over sluices, which can damage boats, and cause serious injury to anyone aboard.

The strong new floating booms replaced the old booms, which acted as a warning not to go near structures such as weirs and sluices, but were not strong enough to prevent boats from being dragged through.

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The new booms not only protect boaters and their craft, but also prevent the sluices from getting blocked by large floating objects such as tree branches.

Regional waterways manager Irven Forbes said: "During this incident, the safety booms performed exactly as they were supposed to and kept this narrowboat from crashing over the sluice. Had the booms not been there, this could have been a different story.

"What is worrying is that this incident occurred when the river was in flood, and we had issued strong stream advice."

INFORMATION: Anyone wishing to know the status of the river can call the Environment Agency's Floodline service on 0845 9881188, choosing option 1 and dialling 033211 for the River Great Ouse or 032112 for the River Nene.

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