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Wye Invader - The Impossible Journey?

Bring a 38 metre (124 foot) Dutch Barge across the Channel, sail it round the South Coast, up the River Severn to Chepstow, then up the River Wye to Hereford, which had not been navigated by any motorised vessel of any size in nearly 150 years - and then 23 years later, return back down the Wye, including passing over the famous Symonds Yat Rapids, to Sharpness for a re-fit - Impossible? - not for The Wye Invader and Frank Barton. Now, in November 2019 the story continues with Wye Invader Two - Details here.
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The Story

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First built in Holland in 1930, the Wye Invader was originally named “Luctor”. There is some evidence (although sadly undocumented) she had an extra section fitted and was seconded by the German Army to become part of ‘Operation Sea Lion’, the German plan to invade Britain by sea that was scrapped in 1940.

In 1970 she was owned by the Hooiveld family who re-named her “Zwerver” and the family lived on board for several years. The Barge had several more owners in the years that followed and was finally bought as “Zilvermeeuw” by Frank Barton, a garage owner from Hereford who re-named her “Wye Invader” and who had plans to turn her into a floating restaurant moored in Hereford, UK. Planning Permission was later granted for this.

The Barge crossed the Channel, rounded the South Coast and turned into the River Severn Estuary. At Chepstow she joined the River Wye, navigating several tight, well known bridges and then the famous Symonds Yat Rapids. The journey to Hereford of 75 miles was to take longer than planned due to low river levels that summer and she reached her final mooring just above the Old Wye Bridge, Hereford on the 11th November 1989, the actual journey time was 20 hours spread over the 6 month period. The magazine Waterways World published 2 articles about the Wye Invader you can read here.
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The 3rd week of March has been significant for Wye Invader (twice!) and for Wye Invader Two (twice!)

This year on the 24th March, it will be 33 years since Wye Invader, a 38 Metre Dutch Barge started out on the last sea leg of her voyage from Holland to Tintern on the tidal River Wye, via Penzance. She departed the Wet Dock out of Penzance at 0800 hours, 2 hours before high water, on the 23rd of March 1989, stopping overnight at Padstow. On the 24th March she left Padstow for Ilfracombe, arriving late afternoon.

The following day, the 25th March she departed Ilfracombe to arrive off Avonmouth and dry out as the tide went out on the sand, she re-floated on the afternoon tide and entered the River Wye at last light, passing under Chepstow Bridge, she did the 7 miles to Tintern using the spot lamp on the roof to to assist with navigation, finally passing under the old rail bridge at Tintern and dropping anchor at about 2300 hours -

Come forward to March 2013, Wye Invader was heading to Sharpness dry dock, arriving on Sunday 17th March -

The story then continues with Wye Invader Two, on the 21st and 22nd March 2019, Wye Invader Two became the first ever narrowboat to successfully pass under the bridge at Monmouth and dock on the wharf by Monmouth Rowing Club.

Again, on the 19th March 2020, Wye Invader Two left Sharpness to escort narrowboat ‘Innisfree’ down the tidal River Severn to Bristol. Wye Invader stayed overnight in Bristol returning to Sharpness the following day at around 17.00 - at 19.00 that night the UK was locked down for the foreseeable future due to Covid-19 - it would be many months before she left Sharpness again! -
New Video - It's been a while but we have a new video up - Chepstow to Tintern
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