River restaurant safely home after running aground during supper cruise
- Credit: Craig Ambury
A river cruise restaurant is today safely back at its moorings after diners had to be rescued when it ran aground in the River Orwell last night.
Owner Craig Ambury said the Allen Gardiner was now back at Fox's Marina in Ipswich after being stuck in mud off the Shotley peninsula last night.
"There is no damage to the boat, and the engineers say it is all fine now," he said.
"We haven't lost any bookings, as fortunately there wasn't anyone booked in today - the next cruise is a 60th birthday celebration on Wednesday."
Five fire crews were called to the vessel at around 7pm last night after the engines failed and the tide swept it on to the mud. It was the first ever breakdown for the popular restaurant, which has operated for years.
There were eight diners and three crew on board at the time. Mr Ambury said: "It was a supper cruise from 4pm to 7pm - the diners all carried on with their meal."
He said the fire crews had brought along inflatable walkways to get the passengers off, and they then got minicabs back to Fox's Marina to pick up their cars.
The engineer went on board at 3am, when there was enough water around the boat, and it was towed to Woolverstone Marina.
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"The engineer had a look and there was a lock in the fuel pipes - he said it was a once in 50 years incident."
Mr Ambury added that the boat had been standing unused for a year because of Covid-19 lockdowns, and this may have led to the pipes furring up.
After the problem with the fuel pipes was sorted out, the Allen Gardiner was given a clean bill of health and brought back to its mooring at Fox's.
Mr Ambury said River Cruise Restaurants had been operating restaurants on rivers for 29 years and on the Orwell for eight years, and this was the first time there had been a breakdown.
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.
It has served as a floating restaurant in the Orwell since 2013. River Cruise Restaurants also operates the Lady Florence, which is based in Orford and cruises on the rivers Alde and Ore.