HOLIDAYMAKERS and locals were shocked when a NCK Rapier crawler crane lifting a boat at Watchet marina in the UK on Wednesday tilted off its tracks and tipped sideways, causing the boat to drop against railings before crashing back onto its trailer.
The 12-ton 38-ft luxury Dutch Akerboom motor-cruiser, which had just undergone a refit, had arrived at the dockside on a transporter from Langport.
It was being lifted into the water at lunchtime when the accident happened, damaging the boat’s hull and propellors and bending the propellor shafts.
Scores of people lined the harbour railings to watch as frantic efforts were made to right the crane.
Holidaymakers Clare Adlam and Martin Holehouse, from Bristol, were on the sea wall of the harbour near the lighthouse and stopped to watch the crane lifting the boat.
“As it lifted it the boat just turned, tilted and lodged on the railings, pulling the crane about two foot off its tracks.
“There was panic everywhere, but luckily the railings were there or it looked as if it would have tipped right over,” they said.
“It took a good half hour to stabilise everything and get the boat back up.”
Marina manager Ian Lambert, who was supervising the launch, said that the accident was a mystery.
“We simply don’t know what happened – the lift was nowhere near the crane’s maximum.
“We will look into the matter very carefully. To my knowledge nothing like it has happened at this marina before,” he said.
The boat’s owner, Kevin Matthews, said the crane was lifting the boat from the transporter when it suddenly tipped over and the boat crashed back on to the trailer.
“What happens now is down to the boatyard but there are some extensive repairs to be done,” he said.
“We were planning to take her to the Mediterranean in a couple of months’ time but I can’t see that happening now.