An investigation has been launched after a “catastrophic failure” caused a floating café in Bristol to sink overnight.
All that can be seen of Greenshank at its mooring near to SS Great Britain is its white roof and red sign beneath the surface of the harbour waters.
Long-running boat tour agency Bristol Packet spent around six years painstakingly converting the 1936 narrow boat into a café-bar, before opening it to the public in 2017.
It was attached to Redshank, another of Bristol Packet’s fleet, which also sank overnight.
Luke Dunstan, co-director of Bristol Packet, said it is “overwhelming” seeing the two boats lying at the bottom of the harbour.
“I jumped out of bed freaking out when I heard what had happened this morning,” he said.
“I’ve seen a few boats go down over the years but I’ve never seen one of my own go down. It’s a bit overwhelming and just really sad.
“So much effort has gone into it and now it’s sitting at the bottom of the water.”
An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the incident, which happened at around 3am, and Luke said it is too early to say whether Greenshank will be able to operate as a café in future.
Divers are due to survey the boat underwater tomorrow (June 16), before it is raised above water using airbags so the full extent of the damage can be assessed.
“We don’t know what’s happened yet,” added Luke, whose family took over Bristol Packet in 1980. “It’s a catastrophic failure of some description and we will investigate.
“All we know is that it’s somehow filled up with water and gone down.”
A nearby resident said it “sounded like massive fireworks going off” as the boats started to sink beneath the water.
Luke said the “saving grace” is that the other boats in Bristol Packet’s fleet – Tower Belle, Bagheera and Flower of Bristol – which are moored next door to Greenshank and Redshank, remain unscathed.
“Thankfully our other boats are above water and we can still operate them,” he said. “We’ll be keeping our spirits up as best we can.
“It’s not impossible to get Greenshank up and it could well run again. At least it hasn’t burned to the ground and we know where it is.”