OTLEY'S recently launched river boats venture has suffered an early blow.

All of Otley Boats' boats and pedalos were swept downstream on Monday morning due to a submerged tree in the river.

The tree had caught the chain of the anchored boats and dragged them down past the weir, where most became snagged on an island of trees.

Otley jeweller Chris Thornton only launched the business in August, bringing river rowing boats back to the town after a gap of 16 years.

He said: "What happened is that a great big tree came through under the bridge and, as it's come past, it's got underneath the anchors and chain and lifted them all up.

"Luckily all of the rowing and safety boats got snagged on the trees just below the weir, though I may have lost a few pedalos.

"This means I'll have to have a couple of days off work to get it sorted out and hopefully the river should drop in the next couple of days so we can get them out and back up."

Chris is also hoping to hear from any residents who could lend a hand with the boat recovery operation.

Putting an appeal out on the Otley Boats Facebook page, he said: "My plan is to wait until the river level drops then retrieve the boats to the bank.

"If there are any strong people available in a day or two to help it would be greatly appreciated."

Anyone wishing to help, or who has spotted a pedalo downstream of Otley, can contact Chris via the Otley Boats page or by calling (01943) 467500.