FOUR men were forced to swim to shore after their speedboat sank in the entrance to Herne Bay harbour.
The incident occurred at around 2pm on Sunday when the boat started to sink close to the old pier head around half a mile off the town.
The crew headed to shore at speed, sitting on the foredeck to keep the boat afloat. She finally sank between the end of Neptune jetty and the modern pier head, leaving the men to swim the final few yards to safety.
Canterbury Water and Shore Patrol and Canterbury Dive Club took part in the complicated rescue of the 20ft speedboat.
With only about 18in of the bow visible above the water the boat was considered a significant hazard to other vessels using the harbour.
WASP II, the Canterbury council patrol boat, was on the scene within seconds but initial attempts by her to pull the speedboat clear of the harbour entrance failed as the stern of the boat with its large outboard engine had sunk into the seabed.
Members of Canterbury Dive Club were in the area and dived inside the hull to attach air bags to the boat. An exclusion zone was set up with the help of jet skiers to ensure that the divers could work in safety.
The four men, all from Potters Bar, were unhurt. The recovery of the speedboat took around two hours.