A BOAT owner escaped with his life after a tree fell on his barge and crushed the roof while he slept during Storm Eleanor.

Gary Marsland had to force his way out of the boat, moored in Bishops Canning, and onto dry land after the fallen tree blocked the doorway on the canal boat.

Mr Marsland, 56, has lived on his boat for six years and was asleep when at around 3am a large tree on the opposite bank, positioned on the other bank to the one which his boat was moored to was uprooted and crashed onto the roof.

After forcing his way out he escaped the boat which has been badly damaged, the roof dented and solar panels smashed.

Despite all of this, Mr Marsland has already returned to sleeping on the boat and hopes that the incident has not caused irreparable damage to the structure of the boat.

He said: “It was a big tree and a small boat. It had been very windy that night already so I don’t think I was completely asleep when it happened, I was a bit wary in the boat.

“There aren’t that many trees in the area itself so when I felt the crash and the noise a tree didn’t immediately spring to mind.

“I got off the boat as I had no idea if it would stay afloat. If it all turns out okay though I might end up with a nice big supply of firewood for the winter.”

“I will definitely stay within the Pewsey Vale Area. I don’t yet know the cost of the damage, there is a chance that the shape of the boat has actually changed which could be problematic. Another issue is the fact that I had a number of solar panels on the roof which are valuable and one has been badly broken.Mr Marsland must now wait to find out if the damaged boat can be repaired. and hopes to see his home restored to its former glory.

When I told someone at work that I was very lucky not to be hurt they said someone was watching over me. But it seems like that same person is the one who sent the tree!