Emergency crews called to rescue diners as river cruise restaurant runs aground
- Credit: CRAIG AMBURY
The coastguard and fire service have been called after a floating restaurant ran aground in the River Orwell - with next high tide not until tomorrow morning.
At around 7pm five fire crews were called to the Allen Gardiner, a river cruise restaurant, which has run aground off the Shotley Peninsula.
According to the owner, the vessel's engine stopped running before the tide swept it onto the mud.
The fire service rescued the eight diners and three crew who were trapped aboard.
Owner Craig Ambury, said passengers were taken off the boat and across the mud on inflatable walkways and were now waiting to be taken back to Fox's Marina by taxi.
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Mr Ambury said: "The fire brigade are there and they are putting inflatable walkways across the mud. They're getting the passengers off and then the passengers are getting in a minicab and going back to Fox's Marina to pick up their cars.
"And then at 3am, there'll be enough water around the boat for my engineer to go in on another boat and get on board and find out what's going on.
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"Basically the boat is just sat on the mud at the moment. There's a good couple of metres before it is deep enough for a boat to get to it. It's not leaning over or anything like that. So we've just got to wait for nature to float it again, which will probably be about three o'clock in the morning
"We've been operating restaurants on rivers for 29 years and on the Orwell for eight years. And this is the first time we've had a breakdown.
"It's a mechanical fault. I don't know what's gone wrong at the moment. We're waiting for the engineer to get on board and find out what the story is."
The vessel was originally a high-speed launch and was used in the Second World War by the South African navy before being repurposed as a restaurant in 2002. The boat has served as a floating restaurant in the Orwell since 2013.
The cruise, which leaves from Fox's Marina in Ipswich, normally takes three hours according to the website. Dishes available to diners include oven-baked salmon fillet, beef burgers or a roasted vegetable and butternut lasagne.