by Chiswick RNLI

Houseboat spiralling out of control brought to safety

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.

Setting up tow of drifting houseboat

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 David_Clarke@rnli.org.uk

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 over 3,500 incidents and rescued over 1,730 people. As well as saving lives at sea around the coasts of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the RNLI also plays a huge part in protecting people’s safety on some of our inland waterways including the River Thames, where it operates four lifeboat stations at Teddington, Chiswick, Waterloo Bridge (Tower Lifeboat Station) and Gravesend. Tower and Chiswick are the two busiest RNLI stations, responding to around 10% of the calls across all 238 RNLI stations in 2018. Unlike many other stations, Tower, Chiswick and Gravesend operate with a round-the-clock crew who are ready to launch within 90 seconds of an emergency call coming in. At each station, the full-time crew work alongside volunteers who come from all different 'day jobs' such as bankers, TV producers, civil servants, students and other emergency services, and give up their time to help save lives on the Thames.

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