Cabin cruiser with engine failure rescued from top of Teddington Weir

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteer crew were paged on 17 August to reports of a 20 foot cabin cruiser stuck at the top of Teddington Weir, with two adults and two children on board.

Lifeboat towed cabin cruiser back to a safe mooring.

RNLI Rupert Knowles

The incident took place at the upstream side of Teddington Lock. On arrival at the weir it appeared that the cabin cruiser had suffered engine failure and the wind had pushed it downstream towards the weir. A concerned member of the public in another smaller boat had witnessed this, alerted the lock keeper who in turn dialled 999 for the coastguard.

The crew ascertained that no one on board was injured, and that the owner of the boat was happy for the D class lifeboat to tow them to safety. A tow was established and the boat was eventually returned to the boat’s original mooring downstream of Teddington Lock.

Helm Greg Smith said ‘Teddington Weir is the longest weir on the Thames, with 18 gates, and often with a high degree of flow, presenting the biggest hazard on our patch. The weir can present a real risk to river users. On this occasion the flow was low but the wind presented some challenges. This vessel suffered an engine failure and the wind caused it to end up pinned to the barriers intended to keep traffic clear of the weir. It was good to see available lifejackets being used by those onboard and we always suggest everyone onboard should wear one.’

Pippa Hardwick, the boat owner said ‘It was the first time I had taken two of my grandchildren aged 7 and 13 on the boat. We got on the boat at Teddington Lock, the children put on life jackets, my friend turned the engine on, we put the canopy down and moored off. I drove down the lock cut and at the end of it the engine cut out, then it started again, but kept cutting out. I tried to steer it towards the Lensbury, but it was very windy and we got blown onto the weir. I managed to hold onto a post while we all called for help. A small boat came along and said they would alert the lock keeper. Meanwhile I hooked a spare rope around the post and my friend held it to keep the boat secure.

'I was quite shaken, but the kids were great saying: 'Well it's okay cos we've got lots of food and there are beds if we need them!' I assume the lock keeper called the RNLI. I was so relieved to see them. It was very windy and they had a few challenges towing us, but I felt in very safe hands. They took us back to our mooring by the lock and advised us not to take the boat out until someone checked it over which we did. Thank you so much to the RNLI, I have ordered an RNLI teddy for my grandson as a reminder of the day.’

Newly qualified volunteer crew member Claire Price concluded ‘This was the first shout I’ve done that resulted in a rescue (sometimes our call outs end up being false alarms with good intent or are resolved by the other emergency services) so it was great to put everything we learn at training into practice and help people in a stressful and potentially dangerous situation.’

We would urge river users to check river and weather conditions before they set out and to be especially careful around weirs which can present dangers to all craft, powered and non powered. If you see someone in danger on the water dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.