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Rock lifeboat called out to wayward speedboat

By mwill  |  Posted: September 23, 2012

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The Rock RNLI team went into action on Saturday afternoon when the driver and passenger of a 6 metre inflatable boat were thrown into the water in the Camel Estuary.

The empty vessel then continued in circles at high speed before eventually running out of fuel. No one was hurt in the incident that happened upstream from the water ski area.

The inshore lifeboat Rusper was launched in a speedy three minutes, thanks to some of the crew being close by the lifeboat station at the time. The two people who had been thrown from the speedboat managed to swim towards the shore and were then picked up by another boat.

For RNLI volunteers Jinx Hewitt, Paul Hancock and Leon Burt, it was a priority to monitor the area where the speedboat continued to race round in 200 metre wide circles, preventing other vessels from getting too close. They also had to consider how best to stop the speeding vessel. They decided it wasn't wise to attempt to board, so were then thinking through other ideas when it started to slow down and stopped after running out of fuel.

At this point the RNLI lifeboat crew were then able to tow the vessel safely back to Rock. Mike Hewitt, RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager at Rock, says the whole situation could have been prevented if the driver had followed the charity's advice to always wear a kill cord:

"A kill cord is attached to both the driver and the engine and it literally kills the engine if one end becomes separated from the other. It means when the driver was thrown from the speeding boat the link would have immediately broken and the engine would have come to an abrupt halt. This would have meant that the two people in the water would not have been in danger from the boat's engine, and neither would other boat users in the area or indeed the lifeboat volunteers who faced the challenge of trying to stop the empty vessel."

He emphasised "I would urge all RIB and speedboat crews to use the kill cord that comes with a new engine so no-one ends up being hurt in a tragic accident."

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