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Sheerness RNLI lifeboat in burning boat mystery at Herne Bay

There was water, water, everywhere but it didn’t stop a navigation buoy from going up in flames in the middle of the sea.

The Sheerness crew of the all-weather RNLI lifeboat the George and Ivy Swanson first thought they were racing to a boat on fire in a busy shipping lane of the Thames Estuary.

But after a 16-mile dash they discovered the cause of the blaze was the Princess No 5 light buoy seven miles off Herne Bay near a wind farm.

Flames lick around Princess No 5 Light Buoy. Picture: RNLI
Flames lick around Princess No 5 Light Buoy. Picture: RNLI

Lifeboat coxswain Robin Castle said: “In all my years at sea and as lifeboat coxswain this was one of the most unusual calls I have ever attended.

“I have never heard of a buoy catching light before and can only assume it was caused by an electrical problem which is also strange because the light buoys are solar powered.”

The emergency call came from the Coastguard at 5.20am on Thursday (Feb 16). The crew arrived on site at 6.12am to find buoy well alight. They took 20 minutes to put out the flames using an onboard hose and returned to station at 8.20am.

Princess No 5 light buoy on fire. Picture: RNLI
Princess No 5 light buoy on fire. Picture: RNLI

The Sheerness station is also looking for volunteers to cover a variety of roles. If you would like to join the team call 01795 664868 or email sheerness@rnli.org.uk

Sheerness lifeboats in action. Stock picture: RNLI
Sheerness lifeboats in action. Stock picture: RNLI

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