Busy weekend with RNLI Margate and Coastguard calls to rescues, ‘tombstoning ‘ injury and an evening search

Coastguard helicopter called in for a search last night Photo Andy Buck

Hot weather combined with more people taking ‘staycation’ holidays is resulting in extra work for the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews as the lifesaving team at Margate found out this weekend with a series of calls including a ‘tombstoning’ youth who suffered injuries and a search last night (August 9) after a deflated boat washed up on the main sands.

Duo in distress

It was an early start on Saturday (8 August) for the volunteers when at around 7.30am UK Coastguard received reports of two people shouting for help in the sea off Margate main sands.

The lifeboat and local coastguards were soon on scene and the male and female concerned were landed ashore where safety advice was passed on by coastguard officers. The pair were visitors from London and had spent the night on the beach.

Drifting dingy

Soon after 2pm the same day the inshore lifeboat investigated reports of a drifting dinghy off St Mildred’s Bay, the craft was too far out to be identified. The lifeboat identified the object as an inflatable unicorn and after searching the area for any possible occupants returned to station.

Also on Saturday at around 3pm the inshore lifeboat and Margate coastguards were called out again following a report of a capsized craft and swimmers in difficulty off Kingsgate Bay. The swimmers made their own way ashore and a search of the area found no craft.

Call to Herne Bay

Around 4.15 on Sunday a kayaker was reported to be in difficulties near the Copperas buoy off Herne Bay, Whitstable lifeboat was busy on other calls and Margate’s inshore lifeboat was tasked. The incident was concluded after it was established a passing speed boat had rescued the kayaker and landed him ashore.

Tombstoning at Margate

Just an hour later the inshore lifeboat was launched to assist a male who was ‘tombstoning’ off Margate harbour arm. He had reportedly hit the wall and injured his head and arms and had been in the water for some 20 minutes. The lifeboat picked him up and landed him ashore and into the care of the ambulance service.

Coastguard helicopter search

Finally on Sunday, just before 8pm a deflated boat was washed up on Margate main sands. With concern for any possible occupants local coastguard officers joined the coastguard rescue helicopter from Lydd Airport in a shoreline and close inshore waters search. Margate’s inshore and all-weather lifeboat stood by at immediate readiness and the search was called off when the occupants were found at Margate railway station.

HM Coastguard Margate said: “HM Coastguard Margate were tasked by UK Coastguard to reports of a missing person on Margate main sands. On arrival officers spoke with the first informant who gave us more information to be able to devise a search plan to look for this person.

“It quickly became apparent that this search was going to need more assets than we currently had. The search very quickly turned into a multi agency tasking with RNLI Margate Inshore Lifeboat, Coastguard Rescue Helicopter R163, HM Costguard Herne Bay Rescue team and Kent Police all involved.

“With most of the assets concentrating on the shoreline and sea for quite some time the officer in charge decided to send officers to check the local railway station in case the person had made it ashore and to there.

“Thankfully an officer located the missing person with the assistance of Kent Police at the railway station. The person was cold but otherwise well, they were reunited with their family and thankfully this was a good ending.”

Margate Coastguard

Photo HM Coastguard Margate

Since Friday HM Coastguard Margate has responded to 12 emergency call outs ranging from people in distress in the sea, ordinance with the Bomb Disposal team, missing people and multi agency jobs involving Helicopters and Lifeboats.

As well as the incidents above the volunteer team were called to Sandwich Bay on Saturday (August  8) to reports of ordinance.

Once on the scene photos were taken and sent to the operations centre who notified bomb disposal experts but due to the incoming tide a location of it had to be taken for teams to return when safe to do so.

The following day HM Coastguard Margate were tasked by UK Coastguard to return to Sandwich Bay and check if the ordinance was still visible. Once on scene the suspect ordinance was located and Bomb Disposal were informed. Bomb disposal arrived and the ordinance was blown up and made safe.


  1. The experiences of our emergency services, the RNLI, lifeguards etc. who do a wonderful job, illustrate my concerns for introducing no power water activities on Ramsgate Main Sands. Our emergency services ( and never forget theta the RNLI is funded by donations)are already over stretched at busy periods so I do not think any businesses hiring out paddle boards or kayaks should be allowed unless they provide their own fully trained lifeguards to keep an eye on their customers. Kite surfing and jet skies do not belong on the same beaches when they are packed with visitors.

  2. Brainless morons throwing themselves off the end of the pier is a common sight at both Margate and Broadstairs.

    It is a shame that our emergency services then have to waste their time, effort and money in rescuing and treating these idiots.

    Why not just let nature (and Darwinism) take its course ?

  3. People should be fined by RNLI for being so irresponsible. Any inflatables should not be permitted in the sea at all, kept purely for swimming pool use only.

  4. Never really got tombstoning-you are basically diving into water & you have no idea what your head or other part of you body will hit like a rock, how shallow that water is etc. This guy was lucky he didn’t drown, get a brain injury or suffer permanent paralysis.

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