Ramsgate Lifeboat
In an emergency, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard
This is the official web site for the RNLI Ramsgate Lifeboat Station.

The RNLI exists to save lives at sea and is wholly supported by voluntary contributions.

We hope that you will enjoy your visit.
RNLI’s water safety warning during lockdown

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging anyone who is able to visit the coast during lockdown under government guidelines, to stay safe and not to take any unnecessary risks that may put extra pressure on emergency services.


As the UK and Ireland enter new nationwide lockdowns, RNLI lifeboats will continue to launch as they have done throughout the pandemic. However every time a lifeboat crew is called to an incident, it puts additional pressure on RNLI volunteers and other frontline emergency services. It also potentially exposes them to Covid-19.

While people are allowed and encouraged to exercise, the RNLI recommends that everyone takes extra care if this exercise is on or in the sea.


Gareth Morrison, RNLI Head of Water Safety, said: During lockdown, RNLI lifeboats and stations remain operational and will launch around the clock where there is risk to life.


We would encourage everyone to follow the latest government guidelines on what they are able to do and where they are able to go during lockdown, but for anyone visiting a coastal area please understand the risks so you can stay as safe as possible and not put unnecessary strain on frontline services. No one ever heads to the coast with the expectation of needing to be rescued, yet rescues are occurring every day.


In a normal year around 150 people lose their lives at the coast and we know that more than half of those never intended to be in the water. So, whether you are walking, running, or cycling at the coast, or enjoying some activity on or in the water, please be extra responsible and avoid taking unnecessary risks.


The RNLI and HM Coastguard last month launched a winter coastal safety campaign to highlight the dangers of stormy seas, changing tides and cliffs at this time of year.


Gareth Morrison added: Our beaches and coastal areas may see an increase in visitors in the days and weeks to come, and we know that open water swimming has seen a huge surge in popularity this year along the south coast, so were urging everyone to follow our advice and stay safe.


In particular, at this time of year we ask people to stay well back from stormy, wintry seas and cliff edges, check tide times before you go, take a phone with you, and call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard if you or someone else is in trouble.


The RNLIs key water safety advice is:


  • Take care if walking near cliffs  be aware of ice and frost, know your route and keep dogs on a lead

  • Check tide times for that day

  • Take a fully-charged phone

  • If going afloat, always wear a lifejacket or other personal flotation device and take a means of calling for help

  • Check all your equipment is in good working order

  • Be aware of the conditions and your capabilities and only enter the water if it is safe to do so

  • In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard

  • Additional safety advice at www.rnli.org/safety

Ramsgate Tides

Broadstairs Tides

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Latest News

27th January 2020

Today we celebrate a milestone for two of our crew.

Ian Cannon took over as station Coxswain from his father Ron when he retired from Coxswain in 2001, twenty years today, following a strong family tradition. During Ron’s long career he was awarded the RNLI’s Silver Medal for his ‘truly outstanding seamanship and tremendous courage’ for rescues, not once but twice and then in 2017 received an MBE.

Ian is a great role model for his crew with a firm hand on the wheel, living proof of the RNLI’s values leading his crew with great seamanship, and years of knowledge having taken part in many heroic rescues.

Phil Mace, is the station Mechanic, again celebrating 20 years in his role. His knowledge of the workings of lifeboats is second to none, which is why other stations Lifeboats have been brought into Ramsgate for maintenance work over the years.

In 2019 Phill was proud to be chosen to march past the Cenotaph in London with five fellow RNLI officers on Remembrance Day in recognition of their long service. The RNLI were invited to take part in the celebrations for the first time in 2016 so very few have been honoured by an invitation.

As you can tell we are very proud of our crew, they head a dedicated team and are always on call to Save Lives at Sea.

Well done Ian Cannon and Phil Mace  here’s to the next 20 years
6th December 2020

Ramsgate RNLI involved in multi agency rescue of a couple from the incoming tide.

A couple enjoying a beach walk on a sunny but cold day found themselves having to climb up onto a concrete apron to escape the incoming tide.

The couple were visiting the area on Saturday 5 December and had decided to walk along the coast. Not being familiar with the tides they found themselves cut off at the foot of the cliffs below North Foreland and had to climb up onto a man made ledge below the wastewater pumping station.

A passing Estuary Services Ltd Pilot boat, returning to Ramsgate from a routine trip boarding a pilot onto a cargo vessel, was in the area and heard over the radio that two people had been reported stuck on the cliffs. They guided the pilot boat closer inshore and after a brief search spotted the couple. Using the boat’s loud hailer they reassured the couple that help was on its way and the man used a piece of chalk to write OK on the wall to confirm that he had heard them.

One of the crew was also a member of HM Coastguard and so he advised the Coastguard of the situation and the crew of Ramsgate RNLI were also called to attend. The pilot boat remained off shore until the lifeboat had arrived.

The Inshore Lifeboat Claire and David Delves was launched and soon was in the vicinity. The tide had now turned and there was a heavy swell making it difficult to approach the foot of the cliffs. One of the volunteer crew members went into the water, swam ashore and climbed up onto the platform with the walkers to reassure and comfort them. They had been trapped for over an hour by now and the light was failing. They were cold and anxious, although safe at that time.

It was obvious that they would struggle to climb back down into the water to reach the Inshore Lifeboat as with the tide now dropping the water was becoming too shallow for more than one attempt at rescue that way, and with the swell it would have been dangerous.

So the decision was taken to go up the cliff, and once the Coastguard Cliff Rescue team arrived they were winched to safety, including the lifeboat man who was unable to return to the lifeboat.

Once everyone was rescued the lifeboat and the Pilot boat returned to Ramsgate Harbour.

Inshore lifeboat volunteer crew member Simon Ellis said ‘ They were lucky that they managed to climb up without getting wet as it was a cold day and the chances of them suffering from exposure would have been higher. If you are walking around the coast do your research first, check the tides as it’s easy to get cut off and always carry a means of communication with you’
The Volunteer lifeboat crew being winched up the cliff by HM Coastguard, note the OK chalked onto the wall.
Photo taken by RNLI crew member Jodie Winch from onboard the inshore lifeboat.
Photo taken from the Pilot boat by Mark Stamford.
23rd November 2020
Fund raising walk for Ramsgate RNLI.
Riley Williams, aged 9 years old, loves fishing! He and his Dad, Joseph, have been regular passengers onboard the Lady Ann, a charter fishing  boat owned by Jason Parrott volunteer member of Ramsgate RNLI crew, since Riley was four years old.

Whilst out to sea, Riley would ask owner Jason questions about his role in the RNLI, absolutely fascinated with the fact that the majority of the crew were volunteers, and questioning how they raised money for all the equipment and boats. Not surprising his favourite television program is Saving Lives at Sea.

So it was natural that Riley attended the annual junior fishing competition started four years ago, and held at Ramsgate RNLI station which is organised by Jason and his wife Dawn, and  which has raised over thirteen thousand pounds for the RNLI.

Local fishing boats donate their time to take groups of children out, with every child receiving a medal, goody bag, tee shirt and fishing rod and reel which are donated by local businesses. Riley attended his first competition in 2018 and in 2019 at the grand age of 7, won the Gary Dunk and John Parrott Memorial Trophy for raising over two hundred and sixty five pounds of sponsorship on his own.

And then we come to 2020 when the majority of fundraising events had to be cancelled, including the fishing competition. Riley, who has only recently turned nine, was determined to still do his part to support his beloved RNLI.

Helped by his mum Charlotte, Riley set up a just giving page called Riley’s Rambling 10 miles, with the aim to raise two hundred pounds to be split between Ramsgate RNLI and Riley’s school St. John’s C of E Primary School in Maidstone.

So on Saturday 21 November Riley and his parents set off to walk ten miles from the Black Horse pub in Thurnham, across the very muddy North Downs to the Dirty Habit pub and back. It was a lovely sunny day for a walk and Riley succeeded in doubling his sponsorship goal, achieving so far, just under four hundred pounds.

Ian Cannon, coxswain of Ramsgate RNLI, said ‘this is a fantastic achievement, and we are so grateful to Riley and his family for their fundraising efforts in such a difficult year. We rely solely on donations and fund raising from the public, and without support like this we would struggle to continue our role of saving lives. We look forward to inviting all of our juniors back to next years fishing competition.‘
L-R Mum Charlotte, (Charley), Riley and Dad Joseph.

All photos taken by Charlotte.
11th November 2020
On Wednesday 4 November, the day before Lockdown two, the sun was shining meaning it was a perfect day to put a protective cover over the old Broadstairs lifeboat ‘Francis Forbes Barton’.

It is such a large boat that the two available members of the Restoration and Preservation Society could not manage it on their own, so an S.O.S was sent out to their very good friends at Ramsgate RNLI Lifeboat Station.

Answering the call was the Coxswain, the Station Mechanic and the Press Officer always happy to help and to do their bit for the local community, albeit on this occasion socially distanced. There is however a historical link between the Francis Forbes Barton and Ramsgate RNLI.

After the Francis Forbes Barton left Broadstairs in 1912 she went on to serve at North Deal as their number Two lifeboat. When she left North Deal in 1921 she was put into the Relief Fleet and her first spell of Relief was indeed at Ramsgate in 1921 where she took over duties from the “Charles & Susanna Stephens” a lifeboat that she had worked alongside in several rescues whilst she was at North Deal. She was then sold out of service and spent most of her time on the Thames and Grand Union Canal.

There is however another link with the town of Ramsgate, in 1946 she was seen in the Royal Harbour as a private boat called Path. We do not yet have an answer as to why she was in Ramsgate in 1946 but lines of enquiry are being actively pursued by the Society.

The Francis Forbes Barton Restoration and Preservation Society were extremely grateful for the help received from RNLI Ramsgate.

Coxswain Ian Cannon said, ‘ We were happy to help, and hopefully this will be the first step in preserving this old Lifeboat and restoring her to her past glory.’
Pulling the protective covers over the historic lifeboat.
L-R Karen Cox Volunteer Press Officer, Ian Cannon Coxswain, Phill Mace Station Mechanic and Michael Bon (Francis Forbes Barton Restoration and Preservation Society).
Photos by Sarah Hewes
2nd October 2020
Ramsgate RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager recognised for forty years service.
Long service awards are no longer restricted to active crew members and recently Ramsgate Coxswain Ian Cannon chose to honour a long serving supporter Tony Wylie.

RNLI stations and their volunteer crew are well documented however supporting them are a small group of volunteers who dedicate their time to fund raising, running their shops, but also helping out with the day to day operations of the station. Without these people the RNLI would not be able to continue saving lives at sea.

Anthony (Tony) Wylie was recently honoured with a forty year long service award in recognition of his services in launching the lifeboat.

Although Tony was never an active crew member, he came from a family with close connections to Ramsgate RNLI, with several of his Uncle's becoming part of the volunteer crew.

He left school and started an apprenticeship to become a book binder however he wanted an outdoor life and in 1968 he decided to get a job working for Ramsgate Harbour.

By 1973 Tony was working in Port Control which is based at the end of the East Pier at the entrance to the Ramsgate Royal Harbour. In those days if there was a situation at sea, Port control would be the first contact for HM Coastguard, who would phone and then it was his decision to launch the lifeboat.

When there was immediate peril to life Tony would make the decision to fire the maroon, which was a booming rocket, originally from the end of the pier, and then in later years from the RNLI station.

Although the volunteer crews these days use pagers to be alerted about a launch, up until 2009 the lifeboat crew, who mainly live and work around the harbour, were summoned by the firing of a maroon flare, a familiar sound for the people of Ramsgate. However Port Control still to this day set off a recorded message and siren to make people around the town aware that the lifeboat is launching and to clear the way to allow the crew to get to the boats.

Although employed by the Harbour, Tony was also responsible for completing the service reports for the RNLI, listing and detailing all of the launches.

Upon his retirement from the Harbour five years ago, Tony became Deputy Launch Authority and then two years later, when Ray Noble retired, he took over as Lifeboat Operations Manager responsible for the smooth running of the station until this day.

Although the Coastguards can request the launch of a lifeboat the final decision in Ramsgate lies with Tony and in the past he has refused after considering the situation.

He has to bear in mind that the RNLI is funded solely by donations from the public and he has the responsibility to ensure the lifeboats are always available to set to sea to rescue lives.

It's a fine balance and when prior to laying cable, a survey of the seabed found armaments from World War II, a request was made by the Coastguards for a bomb disposal team to be taken out to the site in the inshore lifeboat. This was for a private company and would mean that the inshore lifeboat would be off station and not available should there be a need for it so a decision was taken to regretfully refuse the request.

Another time a buoy in the channel had come adrift and the request came through for the lifeboat to retrieve it as it may have been a danger to shipping. Having assessed the situation Tony realised that a Trinity House vessel was in the area, so asked for them to be sent after the buoy instead of launching the lifeboat.

It is his qualities of being able to assess a situation from many years of experience and remain calm under pressure that have made him such a good Lifeboat Operations Manager.

Coxswain Ian Cannon who nominated him for this reward said, ' Tony is a knowledgeable, trustworthy man and a fine Operations Manager. He has supported the RNLI for over forty years, and this well deserved award is in recognition of his service.'

The award was presented at the station, but sadly due to current operating restrictions it was a low key affair and Tony's wife, of forty seven years, Elaine and his daughter Ria were unable to attend. However that probably suited Tony who has always avoided the limelight, and dislikes making speeches preferring to work quietly in the background, something he has in common with many of our loyal volunteers.
Tony Wylie on the left being presented with his 40 years Award by Coxswain Ian Cannon on the right.
Photos by Karen Cox
24th September 2020
A busy twelve hours for Ramsgate RNLI
The volunteer crew of Ramsgate RNLI saw two launches in twelve hours to a yacht with engine failure on Monday 21 September and in the early hours of Tuesday 22 September to a collision in the busy shipping lane between a yacht and a cargo vessel.

A warm evening is always attractive for people who like sailing but with the wind dying completely, and unable to start their engine, the crew of a yacht had no choice but to drop anchor off Stone Bay in Broadstairs, to stop themselves drifting and call for help.

Ramsgate RNLI launched the inshore lifeboat Claire and David Delves at the request of HM Coastguard at 5.09pm on Monday 21 September and once on scene were able to fix a tow line and towed the yacht to the safety of Ramsgate Harbour.

Twelve hours later on Tuesday 22 September at 5.34am the volunteer crew's pagers went off again, this time to reports of a yacht in the shipping lane eight miles North East off Ramsgate near the North East Spit. The English Channel is known as the busiest shipping lane in the world and great caution is needed when crossing it.

The nine meter yacht had collided with a cargo vessel bow on and only had a solo sailor onboard. Thankfully the yacht was of wooden construction and the wood had absorbed the impact to the bow and remained afloat.

A Pilot boat, operating from Ramsgate for Estuary Services Ltd , was in the area and immediately went to the aid of the stricken yacht standing by until the lifeboat Esme Anderson arrived.

The sailor was unharmed and didn't want to be taken onboard the lifeboat. He was able to skipper the boat back to Ramsgate Harbour, where two of the volunteer crew were placed onboard to help him moor the yacht.

The Coxswain of the Lifeboat Ian Cannon said, ' Sailing is a challenging and exhilarating sport but even more so when undertaken as a solo sailor. We would always recommend that they wear a lifejacket and a lifeline at all times and carry a means of communication. Even the most experienced sailor can be caught out when on a night passage.'
Photos by Ramsgate RNLI
News Archive

Recent Launches

Service Call 5
29th March @ 15:37 ILB launched to assist Margate D class Lifeboat with a 21ft Bayliner with engine failure and 3 persons on board.  Ramsgate ILB took over the tow and bought the casualty into Ramsgate Harbour.
Service Call 4
25th March @ 16:34 whilst ILB was out on exercise, they were diverted by UK Coastguard to a report of a potentially in the water. Margate D class, Rescue 163 (Helicopter) Police were all in attendance. The person was found safely ashore.
Service Call 3
4th March @ 09:38 AWB launched at the request of UK Coastguard to attend the Thanet Offshore Windfarm, where a windfarm support vessel had found a lifejacket, T shirt and shoes in the water. On scene the AWB took on board the lifejacket from the windfarm vessel and then carried out an extensive search in the area, coordinated by UK Coastguard, along with rescue 167 (Coastguard Helicopter).  Once UK Coastguard were happy that nothing was in the area both ourselves and Rescue 167 were stood down.
Photo by Sarah Hewes
Service Call 2
2nd February @ 13:11 ILB launched to a person cut off by the tide at stone bay. By the time the ILB arrived on scene the person had made their way to safety, assisted by other members of the public.  ILB returned to station.
Service Call 1
3rd January @ 13:20 ILB launched by UK Coastguard to a report of persons cut off by the tide between Stone Bay and Joss Bay.  ILB completed 6 shoreline searches with nothing found.  The ILB even stopped to speak to a couple of paddle boarders, but they had seen no one. Margate mobile Coastguard were also on scene carrying out a shore side search.  Once UK Coastguard were happy that no one was in difficulty, the ILB was released and returned to station.
Photo by Steve Burton
Service Call 61
25th December @ 10:08 ILB launched to a paddle boarder in difficulty off Joss Bay, with a lost paddle. The ILB stood by, along with a pilot boat whilst the paddleboarder made their way slowly back to shore. Once the paddleboarder was safely ashore in the safe hands of Margate Mobile Coastguards the ILB and Pilot boat made their way back to Ramsgate Harbour.
Service Archive

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