Lancaster Canal fishing wire incident could have seriously injured Poulton boater

A barge owner has told of his lucky escape after sailing into virtually invisible fishing wire strung across the canal, narrowly missing his neck.

By Stef Hall
Monday, 1st February 2021, 4:37 pm

Járlath Cooke lives aboard his vessel - ironically named Lucky Seven - for half of the year, and was moving his boat to the services at Lancaster for water when the incident happened on Thursday.

A length of fishing wire had been tied across the navigation to trees on either side at Deep Cutting, close to Lancaster, and was invisible to approaching boats.

It remains unclear if it was a deliberate attempt to injure someone, or a fishing technique seen in Eastern Europe.

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Járlath Cooke on his canal boat

Mr Cooke, 52, from Poulton, was stunned when a heavy traditional pot on top of his barge toppled into the water and immediately leaned over to try to retrieve it.

It was a fortunate move as the wire then knocked his cowboy hat off, but missed his face and neck.

The former journalist and musician praised the CRT's response and said: " I lost my age old water pot, and I looked over the side to see where it landed.

"The fishing line took my leather hat off, thank God I was wearing it and was stooping down. I went back to get my hat and have cut the line down.

Járlath Cooke lives aboard his vessel - ironically named Lucky Seven

"If I had if been standing up straight, it would have been a different story.

"No hook, no float, it had been"tied" both ends."

The Canal and River Trust and Lancashire Police have been informed.

He added: "I had a call from a CRT boss to check I was ok.

"They have raised a pronto alert, great service to be honest.

"The boss said it that was terrifying and stayed after working hours to call me.

"I have had so so many messages from people on the canal. Canal life is a different standard of life."

A spokesperson from the Canal & River Trust said: “This sounds like a very nasty incident and thank goodness it didn’t result in any serious injuries to Mr Cooke.

"We are not aware of any other incidents like this and hopefully it is a one-off.

"Occasionally anglers can leave fishing wire across the canal if they lose part of their kit while casting off, but it is hard to know if this was the case in this instance.

" During the pandemic lockdown, boaters should not generally be moving their boats anyway, but we would ask everyone to take extra care in this area.”

Mr Cooke posted about the incident on a Facebook group for canal users, prompting concerns from the canal community.

Anyone with information should call police on 101.

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