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Another busy weekend for the Sheerness RNLI lifeboat crew

Lifeboats News Release

The volunteer crews of both the Sheerness RNLI lifeboats were called out a number of times over the weekend with strong winds and tides making conditions very difficult.

The first call came at 8.53pm on Friday 8 July when the crew of the all weather lifeboat George and Ivy Swanson were called to assist the 24 foot yacht Anna Marie that had suffered engine failure and was unable to access Queenborough Harbour under sail due to the strong wind and ebb tide at the time.

The All Weather Lifeboat (ALB) crew located the craft at 9.05pm in the area of the Cant Buoy, situated three miles from Garrison Point.

A crew member was put on board, a tow line was attached at 9.12pm and the casualty was secured safely on a mooring in Queenborough Harbour at 10.12pm.

The second call came at 6.15pm on Saturday 9 July when two youths got into difficulties in a kayak off Gillingham in the Medway estuary.

Unable to make headway against the strong south westerly wind and tide conditions, the kayak had run aground on Hoo Island. With no chance of getting back to safety the youths called for assistance by ringing Dover Coastguard on a mobile phone.

The Coastguard then called out the Inshore Lifeboat (ILB), Eleanor, and the crew quickly located the kayak and its two occupants, transferring them onto the lifeboat along with their kayak and then on to the Strand at Gillingham.

Helmsman Clive Hancock said: 'Oone of the youths was suffering from the cold so an ambulance crew was requested to meet the ILB at The Strand to assess the casualty, which it did.’

The ILB was released and returned to station at 7.32pm

The third call came at 8.46 am on Sunday 10 July when the crew of the ILB were alerted to reports of a man in the water in Sheerness Docks.

The ILB located an 8.5 metre cruiser partially aground with a man in the water at the stern of the vessel close to number five berth in Sheerness Dock.

The 58-year-old had been fishing overnight with a companion at the entrance to Queenborough Harbour and when retrieving the anchor the line fouled the crafts propeller.

The vessel quickly began drifting towards the rocks, pushed along by the strong wind and tide.

The man then decided to enter the water and try to release the snagged line but rapidly started to suffer from the cold and was becoming hypothermic and unable to get back onto the vessel which had no boarding ladder.

After having been in the water for approximately 30 minutes as luck would have it someone on the shore had witnessed the problem and raised the alarm.

The crew of the ILB quickly located the casualty and immediately recovered him from the water where it was found he was extremely cold and confused and wearing only a shirt and a buoyancy aid.

He was then taken back to the lifeboat station at best speed where a Kent ambulance crew were waiting.

Once the casualty was safely ashore the crew returned to the cruiser and made it secure for recovery later in the day.

Sheerness lifeboat 2nd Coxswain, Paul Jarvis, said: ’This is the second incident of this nature we have dealt with in recent weeks and undoubtedly this was another life saved. It cannot be stipulated enough times that the water off our shores is still extremely cold and it is far safer to call for help immediately if a problem arises and under no circumstances should you enter the water.

'The cold is debilitating and no matter how fit you are you can quickly be overcome by it. Whenever going out onto the water please wear suitable clothing and always carry the correct safety equipment and to be on the safe side keep your mobile phone in a waterproof bag and also importantly make sure of getting up to date forecasts of the weather conditions for the area you are sailing in.'

Later in the day, after taking part in the Admirals Cruise on the Medway the ILB slipped out of the flotilla and returned to recover the casualty’s vessel from the rocks and took it back to the Camber in Sheerness Docks.

The final call came at 3.45pm on Sunday 10 July shortly after the crew had finished scrubbing down from the previous ‘shout’. Once again the ILB was called to assist kayakers in trouble due to the weather conditions. This time the kayak had three occupants, two women aged 52 and 49 years and a man aged 52 years.

The lifeboat located the casualty just south of Darnett Ness and took it under tow back to Gillingham Hard with the occupants suffering no ill effects.

2nd Coxswain Paul Jarvis said: ’Again this situation could have been avoided by simply checking the weather conditions before setting out. At sea what can be a nice day one minute can quickly become a dangerous situation the next.'

The ILB returned to station at 5.47 pm.

RNLI media contacts

- Vic Booth RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer (Sheerness)  07926904453 / 01795 880544 /

- Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252

- Sophie Coller-Nielsen      Press Officer (London/East/South East), 0207 6207416, 07824 416615 email Sophie Coller-Nielsen      Press Officer (London/East/South East), 0207 6207416, 07824 416615 email 

For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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