A NARROW boat owner has spoken of her horror of being left homeless after her barge sank.

Dawn Samples said she was devastated to discover the affectionately named 'Sally Cinnamon', the home she had nurtured for four years had disappeared into the Leeds and Liverpool Canal after a weed hatch was mistakenly left open.


The 32-year-old, who had rented out the barge in Riley Green for the first time 'to make ends meet', said she was shopping when she discovered the narrow boat had sunk taking with it all of her possessions.

The care worker, who had been staying with her partner Bill on a neighbouring barge, said prior to the boat sinking it was driven into other stationary boats nearby.

Ms Samples said: "It wasn't an ordinary boat, when I bought it it was a complete mess, I stripped it out and rebuilt it from nothing,

"I lived like a hobo for two years with no electricity just sleeping on a mattress on the floor, that's why I'm so attached to it.

"I was in total shock. I got a call saying my barge had sunk.

"I couldn't believe it. I was expecting to find it back at the marina with a bit of water in it, but she was totally underwater.

"It's going cost £8,000 to have it lifted out of the water, then it's going to need completely ripping out and redoing.

"Part of me knows I won't be able to recover her, it's such a mammoth task.

"I don't know what I'm going to do."

Only the very top of the boat can still be seen protruding from the water at Riley Green Marina.

Ms Samples decided to rent out the boat after meeting a prospective short-term tenant on boat rental website.

The man was looking to buy his own boat but was unsure if the lifestyle was for him.

Ms Samples said she was happy to stay with her partner and make some extra cash and offered her home for the trial.

She said: "We spoke on the phone and he was really nice and charming,

"I originally asked him for a deposit and he said he couldn't afford to give me one, but he was so enthusiastic when he saw the pictures I let him rent it anyway.

"When this happened I was mortified for for him, as I know accidents happen."

Ms Samples said many members of the boating community came to her aid, trying desperately to raise the boat back to the surface.

They hired air compressors and spent hours in the water trying to seal the windows, which was when they realised the weed hatch had been left open, allowing water to flood into the engine.

She said: "Everyone has been amazing, the people who own the marina have been working 14 hour days."

Keith Hodgkinson, a boater from Derbyshire who was passing through the area witnessed the sinking.

He had noticed the boat was in trouble that morning when he had seen the man on board bailing water out with a pan, and by the afternoon the boat's engine had filled with water.

He said:"I couldn't pump the water out because it was filling up so quickly, so I offered to tow him back to his mooring line, but he just set off down the canal.

"A few minutes later I heard him shouting and the boat was going down."

Ms Samples estimated it would cost around £30,000 to have her boat raised, dried and rebuilt but the souvenirs from her travels and handmade decorations are inreplaceable.

She had temporary third-party insurance while some welding was being completed on the boat which she said would not cover any of the costs.

Ms Sample's Friends have now set up a Crowdfunding page to help her with the costs of repairing the boat.

So far they have raised nearly £4,000.

She said: "I accept that this is my fault, that I have been naive about things, but this boat is my life savings, it's all I have."

To donate visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-dawn-recover-her-home.