Jet skiers successfully prosecuted by PLA

A jet skier who flouted speed limit and safety rules on the tidal Thames has been fined, following a successful prosecution by the Port of London Authority. Kestutis Abramavicius, 36, was captured on video by a member of the public as he sped along the river near Benfleet Creek, Canvey Island, Essex. Westminster Magistrates Court heard how the offence took place in October last year. Abramavicius, of Dukes Avenue, Grays, admitted “navigation without due care and attention” under Section 108 of the Port of London Act. He was fined £750 and ordered to pay costs of more than £3,000. The court was told that there is an eight-knot speed limit throughout the Canvey Island area, which is in place to protect river users and the environment. He was identified with the help of Essex Police by the checking of launching records at a local slipway which matched the description of his distinctively coloured jet ski. Benfleet Creek is an environmentally protected area for its habitats and vegetation. Wash generated by the jet ski had the potential to affect this sensitive environment, the court was told yesterday (Wednesday 8 May). The prosecution comes in the wake of a similar incident, where Lee Martin, 31, from Gravesend was last month fined £2,750 and ordered to pay costs of more than £3,500 for ignoring a ban on jet skiing on the river in central London. After the hearing, PLA chief harbour master Bob Baker said: “We think this prosecution, following on from last month’s jet ski case, will again serve as a warning to river users. If you break the rules, we will take action. “We are also very grateful to the member of the public who recorded the offender committing the offence. Their help was vital to this prosecution and it demonstrates just how concerned people are about safety on the river and its environment.”

PC David Lavender retires

At the MSBA business meeting last week we were sorry to report that PC David Lavender of the Kent Police Marine Unit has retired after many years of service to the local marine community.  He wrote to us in January as follows:

“I have been attending the MSBA meetings for the last eleven and a half years. I joined Kent Police Marine Unit in 2007 and one of the first things I was asked to do was to take over from Steve Elliot to become, for want of a better title, the police liaison. At the time the group was the Medway Yachting Association and Jenny Deacon was the chair. The group has gone through some changes during that time. The biggest of course was changing the name and new branding, but the group has kept the same ethos. The Medway and Swale themselves have also changed in those years, two powers stations chimneys gone! There have been a number of notable events over the years such as the Climate Camp 2008, Protester at Kingsnorth, the London Olympics, the Medway River Festival, not to mention the annual Admirals Cruise and of course Medway In Flames. I thank you from a policing perspective for your support in these, for example willingness to change race start times to avoid clashes! The marine unit has also gone through some changes during that time, which I have shared with you and you have been supportive. After thirty years of policing it is time for me to retire. I have, some of you may think, gone to the dark side and I start a new job with the Marine Management Organisation in early February. I have enjoyed the meeting and interactions, though some occasions have been challenging. Some may say this is all part of the job. I have tried to be honest and open when asked difficult questions and I know that you appreciate that. There have been things that I have achieved over the years and some I have failed to do. The lack of a proficient form of communication such as marine watch has been one of these, but hopefully when Country Eye gets into full swing this may finally happened.  I thank you for the information that you have shared with us and have been willing to pass on information to your clubs and MSBA website on our behalf. Such as stolen/boats of interest and missing persons etc. I thank you for welcome and inclusiveness. You may see me again in my role with the MMO.”

We sincerely wish Dave success and satisfaction in his new role. It’s not clear at the moment who, if anyone, will replace him as our police liaison person.

Police miss golden opportunity to catch suspected people smugglers

David Metcalfe, Commodore of Lower Halstow Yacht Club, has confirmed that the burned out red boat which seriously damaged their jetty was the coaching launch stolen earlier in the day from Medway Towns Rowing Club. Here is his account of what happened yesterday:

Sadly yesterday evening around 17.00 one of our committee members was alerted to our jetty being on fire. The blaze was attacked with buckets of water and finally extinguished with the club’s long hose pipe. A red dinghy was found to be the cause resting on the lower landing stage. The fire brigade attended with 3 appliances and pulled the remains of the boat off and placed it alongside the slip.

Separately, the Gransden family reported intruders, possible illegal immigrants on their sailing smack, Thistle, off Shoregate Wharf. It was also reported that a red dinghy/rib was alongside Thistle. The Coast Guard attended, but with no enforcement powers and the tide out were unable to do anything. Kent Police decided it didn’t require an attendance.

Had Kent Police shown an interest in the possible illegal immigrants and intercepted them as the tide came in, that issue could have been resolved and MTRC’s stolen launch could have been recovered.

Instead, due to Kent Police’s ineffectual response, the launch was driven to our jetty and set alight, completely destroying the launch and causing serious damage to our jetty.

Did you see this boat yesterday?

One of the Medway Town Rowing Club’s coaching launches was stolen from Rochester yesterday morning at about 5am (high water). The boat is a Fun-Zac Secu 12 and the engine is a Tohatsu Model MFS 98 A3, engine serial number 027905.  As you can see in the photo, it is a very distinctive colour!

The theft may have been connected with incidents at Lower Halstow later in the day resulting in a red boat being set on fire causing damage to the Lower Halstow Yacht Club jetty. A group of suspicious people were seen during much of the day on moored boats belonging to members of Shoregate Wharf Sailing Club but the suspects had gone by the time police arrived in the evening. Several items had been stolen from a smack and foil blankets had been abandoned.

If you saw a boat like the one in the photo yesterday or witnessed what was going on at Lower Halstow please call Kent Police on 101 quoting reference 15-1509

Abandoned yacht sinks on mooring

Photo Gavin Parson

The abandoned Westerly Centaur, Lady Mine, which was left on Sun Pier for months, and subsequently broke her mast on the Veetee jetty, was left on an RNSA mooring. Today she sank, probably because the broken rigging snagged on the ground chain. What a sad end to yet another once-cherished boat, and an expensive problem for someone else to sort out!

Revenge meets her end in Faversham Creek

A sad end to the Revenge. After occupying Sun Pier illegally for months the ill-fated “pirate ship” fetched up in Faversham Creek before being cut adrift, whereupon she went aground with her masts across the channel. Peel Ports cut the masts off to reduce the obstruction and now someone has put a torch to her. From the look of her frames she was a well-built vessel.

Outboard thieves foiled at Queenborough

Recovering the stolen outboard from the Swale mud

Harbour Manager Emma Crompton tells us what happened. On the afternoon of 25 June, an alert mooring holder at Queenborough Harbour spotted three chaps in an inflatable dinghy removing an outboard from another boat. The harbour team quickly came over in the trot boat while the police were called. One of the thieves disembarked with the outboard in the mud by the coal washer, only to drop it in his struggle to get ashore. The other two went back to the slipway but when they saw the police they headed back to the coal washer area where they abandoned the dinghy. Their two vehicles contained marine equipment stolen from Devon the night before, though the three suspects, who were subequently arrested, were from Kent, though not local. The inflatable dinghy had been stolen from the tender park in March! Emma and some helpers managed to recover the outboard from the mud before the tide claimed it – see photo.

This just shows how brazen the thieves are and how important it is to be alert to suspicious activity.

Look out for Stolen Dinghy and Outboard

We have heard of more thefts recently from boats on the Medway. The latest is a report from Chrissie Peters of Segas SC:

“Our dinghy and outboard was stolen during the night while we were on board our boat. Please be aware there are thieves operating on the Medway.  The dinghy is a 12 foot dark green plastic Pioner tender, which we would love back if anyone sees it. The outboard is a Tohatsu 6hp, we don’t expect we will see it again. Stolen from moorings opposite Segas and Gillingham Strand, on Hoo side.
Please look out for the dinghy.”

This is similar to a theft a year ago from the HNYC moorings, when the dinghy was found abandoned without the motor. It seems many of these thefts are not reported to the police, so please email us at info@msba.org.uk with any information.

Boat Sales Fraud Warning

It has come to our attention that a fraudulent boat sales website is currently active, similar to one taken down by ActionFraud earlier this year. This new website (www.dqboats.co.uk) is very convincing as it uses the VAT number of DQ Boats Ltd. DQ Boats Ltd are a genuine, respected limited company that does not actually sell boats, has no web presence and is not involved with the scam.

Some pictures and information of a number of Clarke & Carter’s current and past brokerage listings can be found on this website, together with boats from many other genuine UK brokers and boat sales companies. Nearly all are priced very cheaply so the old saying ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’ definitely applies. However, the scammers come up with convincing stories as to why they are so cheap such as non-payment of bills and estate sales. Offering free delivery, a 48hr period to check the vessel over/reject and a 6mth warranty it could sound very tempting. We believe a number of people may have already been victims of this scam, see below for a few of our tips to help keep you safe when buying a boat:

1. Wherever possible, do not part with any money until you have viewed the boat you are interested in, you may occasionally miss a bargain but are more likely to avoid scam sellers!

2. Most brokers and boat sales companies will be willing to hold a boat on good faith for a day or so to allow you to travel, if they are asking for a deposit check this is refundable, if any conditions apply and that you are definitely dealing with the right person – if in doubt, walk away

3. Buy through an established broker or boat sales company, ideally ABYA or BMF members (check online)

4. If buying privately, ask to use a broker you trust as an intermediary to draw up contracts, check title and hold funds – most will do this for a reasonable fixed fee that could save you money. Even if you have seen the boat, having the correct title documents and knowing the person is the legal owner is very important!

5. Ask to have a survey and/or an independent drivetrain inspection, this can often highlight potential problems and will usually make fraudulent sellers nervous so they will often cease contact with you

6. Direct bank transfer is usually a safe way to buy or sell a boat but you need to be sure that your money is going to the right place – don’t send money unless you are sure about who you are dealing with and, even if you have seen the boat, checking bank details verbally with the broker or boat sales company if they have been sent electronically is very important as interception fraud can occur

If you have any information on this please file a report with ActionFraud so the impact and scale of the problem can be recorded.