Traditional launch doesn't go as planned - VIDEOS

October 2017 - A hundred years or more ago, boats on our inland waterways were often built on the bank, parallel to the cut, and launched sideways into to water. Today, it is far more common for boats to be built remote from the canal and transported by road to a place where they can be craned in. Delta Marine Services, based on the Grand Union at Warwick, does it the old way. Allan Richards was there when things didn't go quite right.

Our boat 'Albert' was on a return trip from Braunston on the Grand Union to her home mooring at the Black Buoy Cruising Club near Knowle on the Grand Union). Having descended the 23 wide locks to Radford bottom lock, the plan was to cross Leamington Spa and Warwick and tackle the 23 uphill locks at the 'Cape' and Hatton and moor about half a mile above the top lock.

However, on approaching Delta Marine at Warwick, our progress was blocked by a raft of narrowboats that left a gap of less than five feet to pass. Delta Marine were in the process of side launching a widebeam but were having difficulty. The method of launching, appeared to involve two trolleys, two beams overhanging the canal and a powerful fork lift truck.

Unfortunately, it appeared that the trolley to the rear of the craft was stuck and lifting and pushing using the fork lift in various positions along the hull for an hour would not budge it. Instead of the boat slipping sideways into the water the front end only launched leaving the stern still on the bank.

With the launch of the widebeam's bow, Delta Marine also managed to 'launch' about 10 meters of washwall capping, as can be seen on the video …​

Then followed more pushing and shoving from the fork lift to little avail. After about thirty minutes, Delta managed to launch the stern of the boat. It mounted the towpath on the opposite bank. This may have damaged the propeller according to one of Delta's employees.

The launch, which seems to have been witnessed by the boats owners, was followed by a very professional retrieval and cleaning of launching trolleys by Deltas owner (Gary Ward - seated on the fork lift) and staff. Mr Ward later said: “You would not believe we have launched 80 boats this way”

Surprisingly, during these shenanigans, only one boat had pulled up behind Albert with no other boats arriving the other way. Mr Ward refused to move craft such that the two boat flotilla could pass and we were forced to follow the widebeam being slowly 'bow hauled' to the winding hole at Kate Boats.

Despite the two hour delay and a problem with filling Hatton top lock, we managed to make our planned destination (albeit in failing light).

Whether the boat was damaged during the launch is a matter between Delta Marine, and the owners. Of more concern to boaters is the damage to the 10 meters of wash wall caused by the launch. Who is responsible for the cost of repair?

With the launch of the widebeam's bow, Delta Marine also managed to 'launch' about 10 meters of washwall capping
That's the stern launched as well now, sort-of
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