A search by Margate’s RNLI inshore lifeboat and local coastguards for a possible para-glider ditched in the sea yesterday (July 22) instead discovered the sighting had been of seaweed, helium balloons and floating timber.
Around 3.30pm UK Coastguard took a call from a member of the public reporting a sighting of a para-glider landing in the sea off St Mildred’s Bay, Westgate. Margate’s coastguard rescue team was dispatched to investigate and although the first informant could no longer be contacted a number of objects were seen floating offshore but could not be identified.
Margate’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was tasked to investigate further and once on scene and guided by coastguard officers ashore identified the objects as large accumulations of seaweed, helium balloons and floating timber.
A search of the area was carried out and several small craft spoken to. With no further information or reports of anyone missing from the aviation authorities the search was terminated, the call considered a false alarm with good intent.
Peter Barker, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate RNLI said: “We are always grateful when people report anything they see that may be untoward on the coastline or at sea. Para-gliders are to be seen in the area occasionally and we would rather investigate a false alarm than an uncertain sighting be ignored. For coastal emergencies dial 999 and ask for coastguard.”
High time these helium balloons were made illegal.
On this occasion they just wasted the lifeboat crew’s time.
Too often they end up in the guts of sea creatures, leading to a prolonged and painful death through starvation.