A BOATER left stranded when a canal breach opened up near Middlewich could have avoided the incident altogether had he collected his post a couple of days later.

Peter Booth, 66, was moored up when the hole opened up just yards from his Jess Talisman narrowboat, draining the Shropshire Union Canal and leaving him at a 45-degree angle.

Now in temporary accommodation at Kelsall Equestrian Centre, Peter says the breach caused a waterfall-like effect.

He said: “I was on the boat and felt some buffeting early in the evening, but it had been windy over the past few days and I thought it was picking up again.

“At 10.30pm – I was in bed at that time – I felt the whole boat start to keel over to the port side.

“It was an uncomfortable feeling. I didn’t know what was happening, it felt like the boat was sinking. I managed to get myself upright and, walking through the kitchen, the cupboards had emptied onto the floor. I got myself to the back of the boat and saw what I thought was Niagara Falls.”

Peter alerted the police and the Canal and River Trust, and was picked up along with another boater near Stanthorne Lock.

“My boat was on its side and there was nothing we could do about it,” Peter said. “It wasn’t going anywhere, but there was a big hole forming behind it.

“I was allowed back on to get some personal belongings – I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay on the boat for quite a while.

“The other boater kindly offered me a place on his boat for the night. It’s what boaters do. They come together and help each other out, and I’d like to say a big thank you to him and also to Kelsall Equestrian Centre.”

The CRT and partners have worked to float and recover around 20 boats, but there is no such luck for Peter, who faces months off the water.

He said: “I usually stay around here in the winter and then go all over the place through summer. I was planning to move the boat nearer to Nantwich that day, but had a choice of doing that or collecting my post from a friend’s house nearby.

“I chose to collect my post – if I’d done that a couple of days later I would have avoided it and been out of the area.”