Sheerness RNLI Lifeboat called out in atrocious conditions

Lifeboats News Release

The Sheerness all weather lifeboat was called out to assist two vessels in trouble off the Essex coast during severe thunderstorms and torrential rain.

The volunteer crew of the Sheerness all weather lifeboat ‘George and Ivy Swanson’ were called at 11.27pm on Wednesday 22 June to assist a broken down cruiser.


The 9m cruiser ‘El Quio’ had two people on board when it had broken down with fuel problems whilst towing another 9m cruiser ‘Retreat’, which had no one on board.

The two vessels were travelling from the Blackwater Estuary in Essex to Canvey Island when their problems began.

Whilst making the emergency call the battery on the mobile phone being used went flat and there was no other means of communication on board either vessel as their VHF system was not working either.

During the call to the coastguard it was established that the crew of the casualty vessels did not know where they were other than they could see a buoy with a flashing sequence of 3 flashes every ten seconds

Sheerness RNLI lifeboat crew proceeded to the area of the South Shoebury Buoy and could find nothing visual or on radar.

The decision was taken to widen the search and proceed further to the north east towards the Blacktail Spit off the Maplin Sands where the casualty vessels were spotted at 0037 am.

The ALB came alongside the craft at 12.45am and a crew member was placed on board the ‘El Quio’. A line was attached and both vessels were under tow at 1.04am and taken to the all tide landing at Queenborough Harbour where they arrived at 3.35am

The Margate lifeboat had been called to assist but was stood down when it was established the the two casualty craft had been found and were safely under tow.

Sheerness lifeboat coxswain, Robin Castle, said: 'Under normal conditions this would have been a straightforward job but the absolutely atrocious conditions out in the estuary for the whole time we were out made it interesting to say the least, with torrential rain and lightening making visibility very poor.

'The lads did a great job of finding the two craft with the very limited information we had. I would like to take this opportunity to give some advice to everyone who uses the water. Before venturing out make sure that all safety equipment is in place and that all communication methods are in full working order. In addition, ensure such things as emergency flares and charts of the area to be travelled are carried and to hand, necause things can very quickly get out of hand and a normal situation can rapidly become dangerous.’

The inshore lifeboat was also called later the same day at 1.14pm to assist a 15ft dayboat with two people onboard that had broken down whilst towing what is described as a 28ft Venetian fishing boat, near to the Coal Washer Wharf in Queenborough Harbour. Both vessels were safely towed back to the all tide landing in the harbour and the ILB was back on station at 2.30pm 

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

James Oxley, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) 0207 6207425 / 07786 668825

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

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