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

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.

It’s getting worse! Please report all PWC incidents

Although many owners of personal watercraft (PWCs or jetskis) are responsible, anyone can see reckless and irresponsible behaviour almost any day on the Medway and the Swale. These craft are usually launched from Commodore’s Hard at Gillingham, where the MSBA has installed a high definition camera (see video above), or near Kingsferry Bridge on the Swale, where jetskiers have regularly tried to sink small craft on the boat club moorings presumably for fun. There have been several life-threatening incidents but the perpetrators are invariably abusive when challenged. At Gillingham the Medway Watersports Centre has had to cancel youth activities because of the jetskiers’ apparently drunken and dangerous behaviour. Peel Ports, as the statutory harbour authority, have a duty to enforce the bye-laws but will not do so unless we report all incidents. Please download the form below and use it to report ALL incidents to the MSBA and we will pass them on to Peel Ports.  Email your reports to secretary@msba.org.uk

Peel Ports PWC incident form

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.

Police chase PWCs

John Wall took a video of the police RIB chasing the PWCs up the Medway on 28 April. There is a 6 knot speed limit upstream of Folly Point and the wash from speeding vessels is a danger to boaters in dinghies going to their moorings. The MSBA has a CCTV camera at Gillingham Strand, where the PWCs are usually launched, to monitor antisocial and irresponsible activities on the river.

MSBA launches CCTV to monitor rogue jetskis

Here’s some terrifying video from the new CCTV camera sponsored by the MSBA and hosted at Medway Cruising Club, giving a good view of Commodore’s Hard and Gillingham Reach. The antisocial and dangerous behaviour of some PWC/jetski users (and other speeding vessels) has been a safety issue for many years but neither the harbour authority nor the police have been able or willing to put a stop to it, despite the 6 knot speed limit. Gavin Parson, MSBA committee member and acting Secretary, hopes to provide live access to our camera via this website soon. As they say, watch this space…