Thanet RNLI lifeguard’s warning over Margate tidal pool, tombstoning and tides

The dangers of tombstoning

RNLI lifeguards are urging people to stay away from the tidal pool on Margate Main Sands which has been the site of numerous injuries.

In 1996 a diver was awarded a financial sum after diving into the pool left him paralysed.

Lifeguards are also highlighting the dangers of tombstoning off the Stone Pier (Harbour Arm). Water depth is often deceiving and can result in injury at low tide.

Hidden dangers beneath the water include dumped shopping trolleys which are often found and removed. The area is also a working harbour with fishing boats and pleasure crafts.

Image Paul Dunt/RNLI

Thanet Lifeguard supervisor Stuart Cattell (pictured) said: “Tombstoning can be dangerous because water depth alters with the tide. The water may be shallower than it seems, submerged objects like rocks may not be visible and can cause serious injury if you jump onto them. The shock of cold water may also make it difficult to swim and strong currents can rapidly sweep people away.”

The same warning applies across the isle.

Around 190 people die in UK and Irish waters each year. Respect the Water is the RNLI’s drowning prevention campaign which identifies risks, how to avoid them and increase your chances of survival in an emergency situation.

By sharing simple survival skills you could help save a life at sea: if you find yourself in the water unexpectedly, fight your instincts and float until the effects of cold water shock pass. If you see someone else in trouble in the water, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Stuart also advises people to check tide before walking along the coast.

He said: “It is crucial to check tide times when walking across the different beaches, especially by the stack at Botany Bay and along Stone Bay.

“We often have to send out lifeguards and sometimes have to call in RNLI lifeboats to these locations where people are frequently caught out and cut off by the tide’.

Photo Ramsgate RNLI

Last weekend RNLI lifeguards at Botany Bay notified UK Coastguard that they had received information of up to 50 people cut off by the tide at Botany Bay. A visit by crews confirmed the people were safe to stay where they were and wait for the tide to recede.

RNLI lifeguards will have detailed knowledge of any local dangers and will be able you on the safest place to swim – between the red and yellow RNLI flags.

They will also be able to provide safety advice on swimming in the sea, using inflatables and activities such as bodyboarding.

RNLI lifeguards in Thanet

RNLI lifeguards are patrolling the following Thanet beaches daily until September 2 from 10am – 6pm:

Margate Main Sands, Botany Bay, Broadstairs (Viking Bay) Beach and Joss Bay Beach.

From July 7 to  September 2 between 10am – 6pm daily, the lifeguards will also be at Minnis Bay, St Mildred’s Bay,  Westbrook Bay, West Bay, Stone Bay and Ramsgate beach.

1 Comment

  1. With the tidal pool and crowds of people on the beaches at Walpole Bay and Sacketts Gap, Cliftonville this Summer it would make sense to bring the lifeguards back there too.
    The tidal pool on Margate seafront as well as Cliftonville are known to have been fatal in the past with people diving in to shallow waters so need lifeguards present.

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