Gravesend RNLI praise yachtsmen for wearing lifejackets in tender

A trio of lifeboat crew members from Gravesend RNLI have been praised for their teamwork in saving the lives of four people who were plunged into the River Thames after their dinghy capsized.

And the volunteers, in turn praised the yachtsmen for wearing lifejackets even in their tender.

The rescue took place on Saturday evening, after the group – two men and two women – ended up in the river near Thurrock. The four had spent the day sailing in a yacht, and were making their way to shore in their 9ft dinghy when they got into difficulty and capsized.

The Coastguard had received reports of shouts for help which were audible from the shore by Tilbury Docks, near Thurrock Yacht Club.

Gravesend lifeboat arrived on scene at 7.17pm, to find one man stuck in mud up to his knees on the shoreline, and the 9ft plastic dinghy sinking nearby.

RNLI crew member Peter Birthright said: ‘It was dark when we arrived on scene and we saw police officers on shore, as well as the man stuck in the mud up to his knees. We instructed him not to move and he pointed across the water, telling us his friends were still in the river.

‘At the same time, my fellow crew member, Tina Smith, heard cries for help and we quickly located a man and a woman half in the water and clinging on to a buoy. We ascertained they had been in the water for around 20 minutes and were very cold and very frightened, so we were obviously concerned for them.’

Peter said the couple reported there was a fourth person unaccounted for, and again the crew set off in search: ‘We were passing a yacht when we saw another face above the water, also clinging to a buoy. We pulled her aboard the lifeboat and treated all three with thermal blankets from our onboard medical supplies. We then returned to the original casualty and used ropes to pull him from the mud, before taking all four back to the causeway of the nearby Thurrock Yacht Club.’

All four were then transferred to an ambulance and taken to Basildon Hospital and treated for shock and hypothermia.

Ian Dunkley, Station Manager, said: ‘Thank goodness this group were wearing lifejackets. The importance of this basic precaution cannot be understated. The outcome of this event could have been much worse if they hadn’t been properly kitted out. I am confident also that the crew of Gravesend RNLI saved the lives of this group, and I am very proud of the crew for their efforts.’