Busy weekend for Margate RNLI with a Mayday call and stranded speedboat

Margate RNLI Photo Frank Leppard

It was a busy weekend for Margate’s RNLI lifeboat crew dealing with a speedboat, a jet-ski and a person taken ill on the beach.

Around 3pm on Saturday (18 July) the occupants of a 19′ speed boat contacted UK Coastguard reporting their vessel had experienced machinery failure. They were between Palm Bay and Botany Bay to the east of Margate with eight people on board, including five children, the boat was also reported to be taking on water.

The inshore lifeboat was tasked to assist and after quickly arriving on scene towed the craft back to Palm Bay where it was assisted back onto its trailer by members of the local jet-ski club. All the occupants were wearing lifejackets or buoyancy aids and local coastguard officers provided safety advice.

Around 1pm on Sunday (19 July) UK Coastguard received calls from members of the public reporting a person on a jet-ski waving frantically around a mile offshore from Oval Bandstand Cliftonville. The inshore lifeboat was tasked and carried out a search of the immediate area.

Lifeboat personnel at the boathouse noted jet-skis circling close to ships in the Margate Roads anchorage and after the lifeboat communicated with the many other jet-skiers in the area it was established the original person had made shore safely. After a sweep of the area the lifeboat returned to station.

Ian Lowe, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate RNLI said: “Jet-skis are great fun machines but must be used sensibly, with respect of other water users and within the limitations of the rider. Anchored ships should be given a respectfully wide berth as operations on board may be hazardous to craft coming too close.”

Less than two hours later UK Coastguard and other stations in the North Kent coastal area, including off-duty lifeboat crew, heard a Mayday message on marine VHF stating a person had been taken ill. The message was incomplete, and coastguards could not gain further details.

Margate’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was tasked to search the area and it quickly became clear the incident was taking place on the beach at the rear of the Winter Gardens, Margate.

Kent police, RNLI lifeguards, SECAmb and Margate coastguard rescue team all responded to the incident with Margate RNLI boathouse acting as a radio relay station to UK Coastguard due to poor radio conditions at the time. The lifeboat and lifeguards were stood down as the casualty was in the care of ambulance personnel.

Ian Lowe said: “All persons having access to marine VHF equipment should gain training on how to make an effective Mayday message, preferably by attending an RYA Marine Short Range Radio Certificate course to obtain a personal licence.

“An effective Mayday broadcast will enable potentially many stations to hear and record details of the message which if not heard directly by the coastguard can be relayed by other stations to ensure appropriate help is sent.”


  1. Shame on the speed boat owner with an defective boat
    Doughnut make sure it’s seaworthy first I hope you donate to the RNLI because they do it free to save your lives

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