By Peter Barker
The oppressive heat of the weekend was tempered by a fresh offshore wind late on Sunday leading to three calls in as many hours for Margate’s RNLI volunteers.
UK Coastguard was contacted by RNLI lifeguards at Botany Bay around 4.15pm yesterday (Sunday 25 June) reporting an inflatable kayak with two persons on board being blown offshore in the Foreness Point area.
Margate’s D class lifeboat was tasked along with Margate Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT) who were quickly on scene and able to guide the lifeboat to the casualty. The lifeboat located the craft and took the occupants on board before returning them to the care of the lifeguards at Botany Bay.
While returning to station the lifeboat also checked out reports of swimmers in difficulties off The Lido, Cliftonville. Several craft were identified in the area along with fishing pot markers and the report was confirmed as a false alarm with good intent.
Around 6.45pm the lifeboat and CRT were tasked again following reports of an orange dinghy with two occupants drifting seawards between Minnis Bay and Epple Bay. The CRT confirmed the craft had reached shore safely and the lifeboat was recalled while en-route to the scene.
While the lifeboat was preparing to recover to the lifeboat station, it was tasked for the third time after UK Coastguard received a 999 call reporting a male swimmer with an orange float in distress off Joss Bay. The CRT also responded and an initial assessment by the lifeboat failed to identify anyone in the area.
The search was expanded with Margate’s B class lifeboat and the Coastguard rescue helicopter from Lydd Airport tasked to assist with other craft including the Nort East Spit pilot boat, passing windfarm support craft and other vessels providing additional coverage of an area up to five miles north east of North Foreland with coastguard rescue teams searching the shoreline.
After around two hours and with no further information the search was terminated, call considered a false alarm with good intent.
Christian Wright, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate RNLI, said: “The calls were typical of the pattern of a south-westerly offshore breeze catching people out on an otherwise hot and seemingly benign summer Sunday.
“We urge people to be aware of the conditions around them before setting out on the water, use lifeguarded beaches and talk to them for local knowledge advice and above all if you see anything untoward on the coast or at sea dial 999 and ask for Coastguard.”