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Warning over inflatable beach toys after two people spotted drifting off Leysdown coast in a dinghy

A lifeboat had to be launched after two people were reported struggling at sea in an inflatable dinghy.

Whitstable RNLI's volunteer lifeboat crews were called out to sea following two separate incidents yesterday afternoon involving beach toys.

Whitstable RLNI crews were called out to two separate incidents involving inflatable beach toys yesterday Photo: RNLI
Whitstable RLNI crews were called out to two separate incidents involving inflatable beach toys yesterday Photo: RNLI

Crews first responded to reports of two people trapped 300m offshore from Leysdown.

The occupants were reported to be struggling to get back to the shore against the breeze while in an inflatable dinghy.

On arrival at the scene the lifeboat crew found those on the inflatable had managed to reach the beach and were safe.

It followed a day of revelry at the coastal village on the Isle of Sheppey which led to the breaking up of a "beach rave" after two people were stabbed and taken to hospital.

Lifeboat crews did not have to wait long before they were summoned out once again.

The lifeboat crew has urged people to leave inflatables at home
The lifeboat crew has urged people to leave inflatables at home

This time it was to reports of a yellow canoe or inflatable being blown out to sea, up to a mile from shore between Shellness, Isle of Sheppey and the Kentish Flats wind farm.

The lifeboat arrived 'on scene' and located a 3ft inflatable toy.

There was no one with it and after checking that there was no one in the water, the lifeboat returned to station.

Now the RLNI crew has urged members of the public to leave inflatable toys at home or in the pool if they are no seaworthy.

Whitstable lifeboat operations manager Mike Judge said: "Whenever an inflatable is spotted being blown out to sea we have to be certain no one has fallen from it or is struggling to swim back having abandoned the craft.

"When we catch up with an inflatable we then have to 'back track' its movement to where it may have started to make sure all is well.

"When one gets caught in even a light breeze it can travel really quickly..."

He added it helps the crews greatly if people report the loss of any inflatable or paddle board to the coastguard straight away.

Mr Judge repeated his advice given out the previous day following a beach toy incident off Whitstable.

"Whilst we do not want to spoil enjoyment of the seaside the RNLI have urged people not to use inflatables, blow-up toys and airbeds which are designed for pools, not the sea where they can easily be swept offshore," he said.

"If you do use them at the beach, then be aware of wind and tide. When one gets caught in even a light breeze it can travel really quickly and 'out pace' even the strongest swimmer who may go after it."

He further advised adults to supervise children by being in direct contact with the inflatable to prevent any drift seaward.

"If an inflatable does get blown beyond someone's depth, they should not pursue it," he added. "Urge the occupants to stay on the inflatable until help comes and call 999 for the coastguard. Keep watching so you can direct the lifeboat or lifeguards where to go."

Read more: All the latest news from Whitstable

Read more: All the latest news from Sheppey


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