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Thanet lifeguards pick up the pieces as speedboat crashes into sea wall

Lifeguards News Release

Around 1.30pm on Thursday 12 July, RNLI lifeguards were quick to respond when they became aware of a speedboat getting into difficulty against the seawall at Minnis Bay.

RNLI/Paul Dunt

With Margate RNLI Lifeboat Station, the UK Coastguard and Kent Police were tasked to assist the lifeguards; the incident reiterated to everyone involved the importance of wearing a kill cord when operating a speedboat and prompted the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to issue relevant safety advice on the matter.

Collisions are the most common type of accident that occur on jet skis and despite flat, calm sea conditions on Thursday, the two users of their lake boat were sent overboard whilst they inspected their outboard engine, having set out from Herne Bay and running into rocks inshore at Minnis Bay. The casualties were not familiar with the local area.

The craft continued to circle in the water before running aground on a falling tide, eventually stalling itself before Margate lifeboat returned to its station. RNLI lifeguards were able to seamlessly coordinate this rescue with the lifeboat crew, who they regularly train with to ensure that they are best equipped for incidents such as these.

The two males were able to wade ashore as they were recovered by lifeguards and appeared not to have sustained any serious injuries. There was no oil leak and thus the incident was not of environmental concern. Once the lifeguards had checked on and assessed the welfare of the casualties, they were given into the care of the coastguard and police officers.

Lifeguard Supervisor Stuart Cattell who also volunteers with Margate lifeboat crew said: ‘This incident highlights the value of wearing a lifejacket, which both men were. However, it is equally important when operating a jet ski to wear a kill cord, which will ensure that the engine cuts out if the driver goes overboard. It should be treated with the same severity as wearing a seatbelt in a car.’

Stuart continued: ‘I would recommend that all speedboat users carry out a check list of essentials before heading out. Wearing your kill cord is just as important as wearing a lifejacket and checking tide timetables. It is essential that users are aware of their surroundings, including other water users and any obstacles or craft they might encounter.’

‘This incident was a near miss. Although no one was injured or affected, the outcome could have been very different on another day. Just last weekend the local sailing club were operating in this area, as well as many paddlers who were enjoying the sunshine. Incidents such as these can be avoided through correctly educating people on the hazards and precautions to take when operating water craft.’

This incident testifies to the local coastguard’s current kill cord campaign which emphasises the importance of wearing a kill cord. Video demonstrations on using a kill cord and replacement recommendations from the Royal Yachting Association can be watched online at

RNLI Media contacts

  • Taylor Johnson, Lifeguard Press Officer (Summer 2018) for the South East 07785 296252 [email protected]

  • Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 [email protected]

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

RNLI/Paul Dunt

Thanet Lifeguard Supervisor Stuart Cattell

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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