The first picture is of my boat underwater when I returned, with my roof garden and a few remaining plants, bike-wheel and lifebelt, which wasn’t much help!
A few days later, we had a diver plug all holes, door and window reveals. The temperature was minus 4 degrees, with the river frozen the full width across! We hired five 3 and 4″ pumps, made holes through my new twenty-five year guaranteed rubber roof covering and tried to pump out more water than could get in – see photo. Unfortunately, we missed the two funnels for the anchor and did not succeed.
In the marina, depths of ice that were 750mm thick prevented us being able to lift the boat before Christmas. It was New Year and we had made new plans to lift her but the floods came the day before the work was set to take place. We could not get a crane close enough so we had to use inflatable balloons, costing £4,500. Thankfully the boat didn’t roll off the ‘shelf’ into much deeper water alongside the boat.
Lifting took two days due to difficulties with feeding straps under the boat due to substantial depths of silt. Water was pumped out as the balloons raised it and then the devastation could be seen. The photographs show my lounge, bedroom and bathroom and kitchen/wheelhouse. It’s difficult to even tell which way up the photos should be. My brand new, unused bath, sofa, 3 Eberspacher heaters and much more, were victims, as can be seen.
A mammoth task lay ahead, so I booked a trip to Gambia three months ahead, to give me something to look forward to. The insurance assessor was brilliant as it had been such a freak incident. He told me 28 other boats had sunk along that stretch of the River Ouse, nearly all of them due to owners faults such as not turning off seacocks or not greasing the seals. Mine sank purely because of the weight of snow and ice layers that had built up in the freak weather, which weighed the boat down, so that the river was slightly above a waste pipe outlet, which was normally over 100mm above the waterline. I had unknowingly broken the ice with going on and off board, allowing the water to seep in, while I was away for a few days. My engineer should have been working on the sump pump and heating system and would have seen the problem and we could have averted it, but unfortunately the depth of the snow was such that he did not go.
To be continued..
Louis – Hey Pete, thanks for this amazing story. One question came to mind; did the insurance cover the cost of the balloons?
Pete – “Thankfully I was covered by insurance for what I paid before my initial improvements, but unfortunately was about to up it considerably, so I only got a third of what I should have. I wasn’t expecting it to sink, so was just waiting until completion and my renewal! Boohoo! I had to buy it back from the insurers too. Thankfully they only valued it at £1,000 upon lifting. I now keep my insurance value up to date too! But hope it never happens again. I put corks in any low-level holes in winter now, as well as other precautions!”