By Jodie Nesling
Riding the waves on the open sea along Thanet’s stunning coastline has always attracted jet skiers from around Kent and beyond.
The tranquillity of the ocean and the profound sense of freedom is what Jet Ski World owner Darren Moore says made him take on the lease of the Fort Mount site last December.
The 47-year-old says it is a labour of love but one the whole family is invested in and safety is paramount. “You need to respect the sea. Nobody goes out without a life jacket or their mobile phone. Everybody has to complete necessary paperwork including insurance and contact details so we know exactly where our skis are and can monitor them.”
The father of four is also in constant contact with the coastguard and often goes out to assist people in distress; just recently the Margate coastguard thanked skiers for rescuing a drifting dinghy.
But despite adhering to safety rules a number of rogue skiers – who launch from other locations along the coast – have been spotted racing inshore and driving their skis recklessly which witnesses say are endangering swimmers and disturbing wildlife.
Darren says they are appealing to Thanet council to introduce one central launch site to help mitigate the problem or establish a Royal Yachting Association where users must undertake a course before launching from Jet Ski World, though such a move would prove costly.
He said: “Ideally we would like a sort of marine police established to monitor the coastline. But also we need just one place to launch from so that everyone can be monitored properly. At the moment Thanet council have keys to the bollard gates but these can be borrowed from friends and passed around meaning anyone can launch from places such as the Winter Gardens. It’s impossible to monitor.”
It is clear Darren has a huge passion for the sport and says running the business, which includes a popular cafe, has been challenging following Covid restrictions.
“The season starts from around March to October but we didn’t really open until July but since then we have had 200 people through the door and not one incident,” he said.
Having lived in Palm Bay for most of his life Darren says the beauty of the sea and skiing around the coastline cannot be bettered. “You can just forget all your problems. It’s beautiful and we go up to Whitstable and stop at the Neptune or see the Maunsell Forts. People fish off their skis and take their children,” he said.
According to the Riding Personal Water Craft (PWC) Kent guidelines users are required to comply with international regulations for the prevention of collisions at sea and any local byelaws, which may restrict PWC use. It states: “You must always observe local water safety regulations but, as a general rule, must not exceed a speed of 8knots/10mph when your craft is within 300m of the shoreline, unless otherwise stated.”
In an emergency contact the Coastguard on 999 or VHF channel 16.
If you see any PWC rider acting irresponsibly, endangering other water users or breaking the law you should report this by contacting Kent Police on 01622 798565 (Marine Unit) or 01622 690690.
- Beresford Gap, Birchington
- Launching facilities are not part of the water user group. Launching facilities for speed boats, jet skis and waterskiing are designated for members of the Beresford Water Ski Club only. Please contact Leigh Flockhart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07808 232011.
- Winter Gardens, Margate
- Launching permitted for PWC (jet ski, jet bikes, wet bikes only).
- Palm Bay/Hodge’s Gap, Cliftonville
- Launching facilities are not part of the water user group. Launching for PWC (jet ski, jet bikes, wet bikes only) are operated by Jet Ski World (cafe/showers/ toilets). Fees apply, contact Jet Ski World on 01843 231703.
- Eastern Undercliff, Ramsgate
- Launching permitted for PWC (jet ski, jet bikes, wet bikes only)