Freak waves leave couple high and dry

SINKING: Norman and Pauline Brown with their cat Sammy and dog Billy. Their  Narrow Boat sank at Rawcliffe Bridge. (L4653TS) Picture: Tony Saxton
SINKING: Norman and Pauline Brown with their cat Sammy and dog Billy. Their Narrow Boat sank at Rawcliffe Bridge. (L4653TS) Picture: Tony Saxton
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AN elderly couple lost their home, after 15 foot waves on a district canal caused their narrowboat to sink.

Pauline and Norman Brown, were just able to save their pet cat Sammy, 14 months, and 24-year-old dog, Billy, before their boat, Little Nell, met its watery end.

“It was just freak weather,” said Norman, aged 69. “It was around 2pm and weather changed dramatically.

“The water was very rough and the waves were ten and 15 feet high. They burst the canopy at the front of the boat and then the water started to get in.”

Norman managed to steer Little Nell to the bank, and was able to get Pauline, 64, and their pets to safety.

“But the boat didn’t go without a fight,” Norman said. “We got to the riverbank and it took her about half an hour to go down. We tried to save her but she sank after about half an hour after we got on dry land.”

The couple have been living on their narrowboat, which they bought 25-years-ago, for the past eight years and had travelled from the Blue Water Marina in Thorne, where Little Nell was berthed, to spend the New Year at Rawcliffe Bridge.

Norman added: “We were just 100 yards away from the marina when it happened. If we’d got in there, we’d have been safe.”

They are still waiting to hear which of their possessions are salvageable.

“We’ll have to wait until they’ve got the boat to the surface before we know anything,” Norman said. “It is our home, so everything we own was on there.”

The owner of the Blue Water Marina has lend them a narrowboat temporarily, and Paul Smith, owner of the village’s Black Horse pub, put them up for free while they stayed in Rawcliffe Bridge following the sinking last Wednesday.