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Houseboat spiralling out of control brought to safety by Chiswick RNLI crew

Lifeboats News Release

At 18.12 on Friday evening, 31 August 2018, Chiswick RNLI lifeboat crew responded to reports of a drifting vessel crashing into moored boats at Brentford.

The crew found a large 2 storey houseboat was drifting haphazardly with the strong incoming tide. There were many leisure boaters on the river enjoying the early evening sunshine including paddle boarders and rowers as well as several motor cruisers. It was apparent the lifeboat crew needed to gain control of the vessel quickly in order to avoid further damage or injury.

A crew man went aboard and soon found there was no one present. An alongside tow was prepared but once attached helmsman Mark Turrell decided that he didn’t have sufficient control of the unwieldy houseboat, built on a square ended pontoon. The crew set up an astern tow, while the lifeboat held the vessel gently against the overhanging branches of trees on Brentford Ait, prevented it from drifting and spiralling further upriver without causing damage. Once the line was set up the vessel was slowly towed to the pontoon by the entrance to Brentford dock where the crew moored it safely with four lines.

It appeared that the vessel had been berthed behind Brentford Ait and had come adrift causing damage to other vessels and had also smashed into the footbridge onto the Ait.

RNLI Helmsman Mark Turrell commented ‘Once again our training, speed of response and the capability of the E Class RNLI lifeboat to handle large vessels out of control made sure that a hazardous situation was brought swiftly under control without further damage or harm.’

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station is the second busiest in the UK and Ireland. Since The RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started in 2002, Chiswick Lifeboat has attended one 3,200 incidents and rescued over 1,620 people. The RNLI is entirely funded by public donations.

RNLI media contacts

  • David Clarke RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (Chiswick), 07951 21 0500
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825,
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

RNLI/David Clarke

Setting up tow of drifting houseboat

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland