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September 17, 2006
Sunken fishing boat rescued with the help of Burnham's hovercraft

A five-and-a-half hour bid to retrieve a sunken fishing boat from the treacherous banks of the River Brue ended successfully on Sunday (September 17th) when the craft was refloated with the help of Burnham's rescue hovercraft.

The Spirit of Lelaina hovercraft was called to the scene to help refloat the 21ft cabin cruiser, which had got into problems half a mile up the estuary towards Highbridge.

Owner Roger Geach, 58, of Bridgwater, (pictured) watched on from the river bank as his £3,000 boat - which he'd only bought a week ago - was unplugged from the thick mud, before flotation buoys were attached to it and it was towed back to the safety of Burnham Sailing Club's pontoons.

"I'm gutted this has happened," he said. "It's a big disappointment. I moored the boat on the banks but didn't take account of the high tides we've been having. The tide came in and completely engulfed it."

"Fortunately, I wasn't there at the time so there was no risk to myself, but the boat is in quite a state."

"After a good wash down, I hope to be taking it out sailing again soon. These rescuers have done a terrific job and I will be making a donation to BARB in the coming days."

Once the hovercraft had pulled the cruiser free from the mud, a nearby yacht towed it to the town's sailing club.

Burnham's hovercraft has helped and rescued more than 95 people during the last two years. The hovercraft is named after five year-old Lelaina Hall, who tragically lost her life in the mud at nearby Berrow in 2002. The Western Daily Press launched a successful fundraising campaign soon after the tragedy when its readers donated £115,000 to buy the fully-equipped hovercraft.


Official BARB Web site home page


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