Canal & River Trust’s weed clearing and small dredger boat has sunk in Little Venice! It was said the boat had tipped to one side whilst clearing duckweed and this caused it to sink. It is not known why this happened so far.
Currently no boats can venture through Little Venice although they can go down the Regent’s Canal from Paddington or as far as the Delamere Terrace moorings from the Bulls Bridge direction.
The sunken workboat by Little Venice’s famous ‘blue’ bridge.
The boat has sunk in a very awkward position, half in and half out of the bridgehole so its no easy task to retrieve using cranes or similar. Its also awkward in that its right outside CRT’s head office! The old adage ‘the cows come home to roost’ perhaps?
We’re really sorry says CRT…
A few timber blocks (baulks) in readiness for (possibly) tomorrow’s big lift. More need to be found first.
The calamity occurred late yesterday afternoon and it is believed the canal through Little Venice will be closed for a couple of days. Late this morning (26 September) CRT’s workmen were finally arriving with some huge blocks of timber in order to begin the work of salvaging their boat. Normally a boat can be salvaged and raised from the water by use of ingenuity and pumping, however this is one boat that just cant be done that way because of its design.
Right on the doorstep of CRT HQ!
Tourists at Little Venice being explained the intricacies of how CRT’s experts can sink their boat, whilst one of the party takes photo of the said scene.
This is going to be no easy operation to recover the workboat. It will have to be dragged backwards through the bridge into the narrows by the Toll House (which is CRT’s London offices) in order to be recovered. That in itself is going to take some effort, and this is even before they begin to lift the boat.
Before any lifting is conducted what CRT’s salvage team have to do first is to build a frame (not an ‘A’ frame which is far too light for the amount of lift that will be needed.) This specially built frame will be built across the narrows right in front of the CRT offices. Essentially these timber blocks will be piled either side of the waterway and then steel beams erected right across the channel. When that is done machinery including the various winches and pulleys needed can be installed on the steel cross beams. When this is done the stricken boat can be pulled into the narrows and then hopefully raised. It is going to be a slow job however…
The narrows outside CRT HQ is where the operation will take place. A lifting frame will be built across here.
Three years ago CRT vowed it was waging war on the duckweed. This year the duckweed has been winning this war, I do not think the duckweed has lasted so long through the year, its practically October, and the weed’s existence in the autumn is without precedent. Indeed as we now know, ‘the duckweed war’ has claimed one of CRT’s boats! The link provided shows CRT’s latest rendering of that page however for prosperity’s sake the original is shown below.
UPDATE 27 September: CRT fished its boat out early pm today using a barge (with crane attachment) which apparently had to be specially brought from CRT’s Adelaide Yard. Wood & Hall’s tug Scouser brought the barge the sixteen or so miles to Little Venice. This mounted crane was used to pull the rear of the stricken boat up whilst a couple of pumps helped to reduce the water load bearing weight inside the vessel. Eventually it was raised, refloated, then taken away for repairs. The method was certainly quicker than the original idea of using a frame!