Margate RNLI called to large buoy broken adrift in Estuary

Margate RNLI lifeboat with the errant buoy in tow (RNLI Margate)

Margate’s RNLI all-weather lifeboat has recovered a large navigation buoy which had broken adrift in the recent gales, posing a threat to navigation in the Thames Estuary.

Ships in the Tongue Anchorage, around ten miles north east of Margate, contacted UK Coastguard around 11am this morning (Monday 5 March) reporting a large navigation buoy drifting close to vessels in the anchorage.

The buoy was thought to have broken adrift from its moorings, possibly in Belgian waters, and was considered to be a hazard to navigation in a busy part of the Thames Estuary. The help of Margate RNLI was sought to bring the errant buoy under control and it was agreed the all-weather lifeboat would launch and attempt to recover it.

Guided by a survey boat and ships at anchor the lifeboat  located the buoy which was taken under tow with the plan to bring it to the safety of Ramsgate harbour. The shape, size and weight of the buoy made for a difficult tow and it was some six hours later that it was able to be secured alongside in the harbour.

Ian Lowe, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate lifeboat, said: “While there was no direct risk to life, a large drifting navigation buoy can present a significant hazard to shipping, particularly small craft in the dark. In the absence of any immediate commercial solution we were happy to assist and hopefully prevent a more serious situation developing.”