Record number of rescues in 2020

The failure of the River Acton sluice gates led to 50 boats needing to be rescued The failure of the River Acton sluice gates led to 50 boats needing to be rescued
Industry Database

River Canal Rescue experienced another record year in 2020 in terms of the number of rescues it undertook.

In the period from January 1 to December 31, engineers attended 231 incidents - 186 of them classed as major, 55% more than the 149 – of which 105 were major in 2019.

Storms Brendan, Ciara, Dennis and Jorge, plus lockdown restrictions, have been attributed to the rise, with vessels either battered by bad weather or suffering water ingress, due to a lack of maintenance, as people struggled to get to their boats. 

Another contributing factor was the River Avon sluice gate failure in September, when RCR recovered and stabilised 50 boats in under three days.

In contrast, with fewer people using the waterways, the number of general call-outs, such as electrical, fuel and engine issues, flat batteries, over-heating and gear box failures, fell by 17%, from 3450 in 2019 to 2850.

“Given the current situation, I’m not surprised by these figures; the storms were relentless - in two months we carried out 52 major rescues - and many people were unable to check their boats last year,” said RCR MD Stephanie Horton. “Once water starts seeping into a boat, it can quickly turn into a perilous situation.”

A major incident is defined as submerged, partially sunken or grounded craft, plus salvage work; minor incidents are situations which on attendance, can be resolved without the need for a full rescue team.

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