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Couple's sunken canal home rescued from marina in Thurmaston

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A couple can begin picking through their soggy belongings after a salvage expert rescued their sunken houseboat.

Carolann and Trevor Forman's 61ft boat Merlot has been moored at the marina in Thurmaston since the summer.

As the Mercury reported on Wednesday, high water had engulfed all but three feet of their £50,000 home, while the owners were at a funeral in Wales on December 27.

It is believed the front of the boat got caught on the bank and, instead of floating on the rising water, was trapped and filled with water.

It has not been the only problem on the canals during the Christmas period, with wet weather causing an embankment to collapse into the Grand Union Canal, north of Foxton.

Officers from the Canal and River Trust said a 60-metre stretch of land above the canal slipped into the waterway between Christmas Day and December 27, making it too narrow to pass. Yesterday, water levels dropped enough to allow an expert to drop a pump into the front hatch of the Formans' boat and pump out tons of water.

Carolann, 56, said: "It was such a relief to see her up and out of the water – it was like seeing a loved one being rescued.

"We will have to wait until she is in a special bay before we can get inside, but I looked through the window.

"Everything is covered in mud and it looks like it has been tipped upside down and shaken about – there were even a few dead fish floating around."

Carolann and husband have divided their time between the boat and a cottage in Wales since he retired from the police force more than four years ago.

She said: "Now the real fun and games start, as we work with the insurance company to sort it out. Of course, I also want to try to salvage whatever I can once we get inside."

Officers at the Canal and River Trust closed the section of the waterway, north of Foxton, following the embankment collapse last month.

They are moving a floating digger to the site to dredge the canal, removing fallen sediment from the side and bottom.

Jeff Whyatt, senior manager for the Canal and River Trust, said: "We are planning a temporary solution as we can't remove all the dislodged material from the canal while the land above remains so wet. To do so could destabilise the embankment further and cause more slippage into the canal.

"By dredging the centre section and the towpath side of the canal, we will be creating enough space for boaters to navigate this stretch and, at the same time, working out the best permanent repair for the embankment."

It is thought the digger will arrive on Monday. Work will begin the following day and the canal stretch will reopen on Monday, January 16.

The trust has to work with Natural England to clear any reeds from the towpath and any small trees that have moved with the slipped embankment. The towpath will remain open to walkers and cyclists.

Mr Whyatt said: "It is too early to predict how much the repairs are going to cost the charity to repair."

Mary Matts, who runs Foxton Boat Services, said because the closure was about a mile north of Foxton, it had not caused too much trouble for boaters.

"There is very little traffic on the canal at this time of year," she said.

Couple's sunken canal home rescued from marina in Thurmaston


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