Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Advice on Board – Know How To Keep Yourself & Your Crew Safe Whilst Afloat

Did you know that our team of RNLI Community Safety volunteers can carry out Advice on Board safety advice sessions with you.  We will visit you and provide you with practical suggestions on how to improve the safety on your boat and it’s equipment.


When and where will the advice sessions take place?

The session is specifically tailored around your availability and the location to suit you.  It is not like an MoT for a car, but a friendly chat where we can help with suggestions on how to improve safety for you and your crew.  We will provide you with a summary of the main points covered to take away with you at the end of the session.

Do the advice sessions cost anything?

The sessions are totally free of charge.

Are the RNLI Community Safety Team qualified to undertake these sessions?

All the team that conduct the Advice on Board sessions have attended a course run by the RNLI to qualify them to carry out the checks. They also attend refresher sessions to keep their knowledge up-to-date.


Can the advice session include checking my lifejackets too?

Yes, we can check your lifejackets as well, we also recommend getting them regularly serviced and by a service agent or local chandlers who may have the facility to send off jackets to a manufacturers.


I have a VHF handheld radio and I am unsure whether it is still ok to use, can you check the radio?

Our team are not qualified to service or check VHF handheld or base station radio’s.  We would recommend contacting a local dealer or manufacturer for more advice.

How can I book an Advice on Board session with my local Community Safety Team?

If you have your boat is moored at Ramsgate Harbour please send our team a direct message on either our Facebook or Instagram page and we will reply asap.  If you live in another area then you can contact RNLI HQ at Poole by going to this link


What happens during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our team are permitted to carry out some RNLI Community Safety work using social distancing.  If you would prefer to wait until 2021 then you can still register your interest in having an advice session carried out in the future.

I would like some advice on my engine. Can you help me with this?

Mechanical failure is the single biggest cause of rescue call outs to sailing and motor cruisers, accounting for nearly 20% of all our lifeboat launches. Knowing your boat, carrying spares and being able to fit them could make the difference between having to call for help and being able to help yourself. Our team are not qualified to check over engines.  Our advice is to get your engine checked out by a qualified engineer.

Why not download these free RNLI resources:

check list for inboard and outboard engines

check list for outboard engines

The RYA diesel engine maintenance course is designed to help you with engine problems when out at sea


Are you able to take time expired pyrotechnic’s (TEP’s) from me?

We are not permitted to take TEP’s from any members of the public due to the risk involved.  Please contact your supplier where you purchased the flares from initially and ask whether they operate a ‘take back facility’. Alternatively, speak with a life raft manufacturer or council recycling centre.  Our blog on how to dispose of out of date flares may provide some useful reading.


What happens if I have some more questions?

If you have any questions on Advice on Board sessions or any aspect of safety on your boat then please do not hesitate in dropping us a private message on our social media pages.  Thank you for reading and stay safe.


Further useful links

RYA training courses

Sign-up to your lifesaving newsletter





Schools Out For The Summer – Top 10 Things We Enjoy About The Seaside

How does Alice Cooper’s 1972 song go …….”School’s out for the Summer!”…..  Many schools have now finally broken up for the Summer.  With the mass Summer holiday getaway well underway, we thought we would share with you our team’s top 10 things they love to do whilst at the seaside:

1.  Enjoy a lovely swim or paddle at a lifeguarded beach

You don’t have to be an olympic swimmer to enjoy the sea, some people enjoy a gentle paddle just as much. Letting the water wash over your feet and legs is a fantastically relaxing thing to do.  Have a look out for the red and yellow flags these will designate where the safest place is to swim or enjoy your activity. More info on beach safety.

2.  Enjoy a nice book to relax and unwind?

We love a great novel especially when sat on the beach enjoying time with the family.  Charles Dickens spent his Summer holidays in the 1850’s and 1860’s in Broadstairs and is reported to have written ‘Bleak House’ there.  We especially love our crime thrillers, but which book would you like to take to the beach?

3.  Have a go at a new sport?

Some members of our team love their coastal water sports.  Why not try out a new sport : surfing, kayacking, stand-up paddle boarding, diving, coasteering and personal water craft (often referred to as jet skiing) have all increased in popularity in recent years.  There are plenty of approved school’s and activity centre’s that run taster or starter courses all around the coast. More helpful safety advice from the RNLI can be found here

4.  Rock pooling

Challenge your family to see who can spot the most unusual creatures. The best time to get to the beach is at low tide as it’s the best time to look for hermit, shore or porcelain crabs and sea anemone.  Some of the creatures can be fragile so be alittle careful.  Before you head down check the tides and be aware of your surroundings at all times as tides can come in without you noticing.  More tides info: Tides Near Me


5.  Swim Safe – Margate Main Sands

Swim Safe is running at Margate Main Sands this year again. Incase you haven’t heard it is free swimming coaching for children aged 7-14 years in the sea with qualified and experienced swim teachers.  Your child must be able to swim 25 metres in a pool unaided before attending. Book your child’s place here

6. Visit a Lifeboat Shop or lifeboat station

Each Lifeboat station has their very own shop which is open during the Summer holidays.  These are located either at the lifeboat station or very close by. They sell a whole range of fantastic RNLI goodies which help to enable the RNLI continue to carry out his essential lifesaving work. Find out more about Kent’s lifeboat stations by checking out our website useful links page

7. Enjoy an ice cream

Our team love their ice cream.  There’s plenty to choose from in and around Broadstairs, Margate and Ramsgate’s beaches.  What is your favourite you enjoy?  John one of our Comunity Safety Advisors loves his ice cream cone with a flake and strawberry sauce.  Andy loves a choc ice.

8.  Build a sandcastle

Sandcastle building is such a fun activity to do with your children.  Andy (one of our Team) enjoyed building sandcastles with his son and digging a moat around the castles when they were built.

9. Coastal Walking

Taking a lovely beach or coastal early morning walk or perhaps one during the evening is such a fabulous thing to do. It is such as relaxing activity whilst enjoying the sea air and the sights and sounds of the coast.  Some bays can get cut-off very easily in our area of Kent (Kingsgate, Botany, Dumpton Gap, Stone Bay and environs) so it is advisable to have a look before you go out at the Tides Near Me App, check local hazard warning signs and carry a fully charged mobile phone incase you need to call for help. Have a great walk!

10.  How many times can you skim a stone?

How many bounces can you do? Flat or smooth stones are the best in our opinion for skimming in the sea and there’s plenty to be found on the beach. We love challenges, so why not hold your own family competition and see who wins. Maybe the winner gets an ice cream?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our top 10 list. As Joel one of our Community Safety Advisors says “what is there not to like about the beach”.  What are your 10 ten things that you like to do?  Have a great time whatever you choose to do! Happy holidays!

More useful links:

Sign-up to our newsletter

Find your nearest lifeguarded beach

Swim Safe – free children’s swimming lessons

HM Coastguard Beach Safety

Visiting the coast on holiday – know what to do in a coastal emergency

Lifejackets – Which One Should You Buy?

The RNLI indicates “Each year around 200 people drown in coastal waters around UK and Southern Ireland, some of which happen to people who are carrying out water based activity.

Research suggests that wearing a lifejacket can increase your chances of survival by up to four times if you’re immersed in cold water.* Whatever your activity, wearing a well-fitted, well-maintained and suitable lifejacket or buoyancy aid could save your life”.

Source* Professor Mike Tipton 2012.


We are often asked at shows and events “which lifejacket could you recommend?” Our reply is always, “we don’t recommend any particular lifejacket as we don’t know what the type of water activity that you will use it for eg yachting, power boating, kayacking, dingy sailing etc,  everyone is individual and one size definitely doesn’t fit all!”. One of our pieces of advice is that you must be comfortable wearing it.

Our team runs lifejacket clinics throughout the year at local yacht clubs, marina’s and harbours.  If you would like us to run one for you or your club please drop us an email :

lifejacketclinic lifejacket RNLICommunitysafety RNLIwatersafety RNLIseasafety Yatching sailing motorboating kayacking powerwatercraft Personalfloataiondevice PFD

Here are some of the top tips that you could carry out to ensure your lifejacket is fit for purpose (please note: these checks are not a substitute for a proper service at a service agent or recognised manufacturer)


  1. Inspect the outside of the jacket for wear and tear. Take a detailed look at the cover for any damage, webbing, harnesses, crotch straps, sizing and fit
  2. Even if it is a jacket with an inspection window, undoe the lifejacket at the point next to the inflator.
  3. Check the gas cylinder is hand tight, or if it’s a bayonet type, is it firmly locked in position.
  4. If the lifejacket is new to you, remove the cylinder and check it has not been fired.
  5. Replace the cylinder if required.
  6. Look for the green coloured indicators on the trigger and if fitted, on the automatic firing system.
  7. Keep spare cyclinders and replacement parts for the automatic firing system on hand. So, that the jacket can be re-armed. Or, keep a spare jacket for each person onboard. The replacement parts are relatively inexpensive to purchase. Don’t forget jackets for your dog(s) if you take them on a voyage!
  8. Get the jacket serviced at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.  This is highly recommended.
  9. Undertake a thorough inspection of each and every lifejacket at least once a year – more often if the lifejacket is used frequently.
  10. Conduct an inflation test of the bladder annually. Inflate the bladder through the oral inflation tube via a low pressure air pump or simply blowing into the tube. Leave inflated for at least 24 hours in a termperature stable environment to check the bladders integrity.

Useful links :

The RNLI’s complete guide to lifejackets

How to choose a lifejacket and maintain it – RNLI

Andling and fishing safety Advice – RNLI

Lifejackets Useless Unless Worn – Thanet RNLI CS

Lifejacket Clinic Sends Out Massive Safety Message

How to book a free RNLI lifejacket clinic


Calling For Help At the Coast – But which device should I get?


Carrying a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof case can most of the time be sufficient on inland coastal activity

Whatever coastal activity or water sport that you are taking part in it is vitally important to carry a means of calling for help incase you or one of your party gets into difficulty.   This includes going for a walk with your lovely doggie or friends/family along the great coastline.   Everything including sailing off-shore, kackaying, climbing, diving, swimming or motor boating to name a few.  The ability to call for help quickly and get rescue services to you or the person/animal in difficulty can be the difference between living or dying.

If you do find yourself in difficulty, hear or see someone else or an animal in difficulty in the water or at the coast call ‘999’ or ‘112’ straight away and ask for the Coastguard.  If you are inland at a river, loch, canal, reservoir or lake then ring ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Fire Service again straight away.

To assist you with some of the calling for help devices which are available we have included anumber below (Image credit: RNLI)

The RNLI advises :

  • Smart phones can provide a location, but emergency calls should be made by voice (call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard). Text messages and map locations are often no use to the Coastguard.
  • Even if your phone shows no service, try calling 999 or 112 anyway as in an emergency your phone will be able to use another phone network. Please note that with some devices, repeatedly pressing the power button can activate an emergency call with your location.
  • The RYA SafeTrx ap is available to download for free for use in notifying a specified contact if you are overdue from your trip. The Coastguard can also monitor and be kept informed.


Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

These have recently come right down in price and retail at around £175.00.  They are now being used by all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts including walkers, climbers and mountain bikers.  The PLB needs to be registered to you (shouldn’t be loaned to friends), they will operate world-wide and you can rely on the Coastguard on picking up the signal immediately and your GPS location given to lifeboat and coastguard teams.   The PLB needs to be activated so the casualty will need to be conscious with the aerial pointing out of the water. One of our team carries one on his lifejacket permanently.

The VHF handheld VHF radio’s are now reasonable priced and available widely

The RNLI makes these points with regards VHF radio’s:

  • If possible, buy a DSC-equipped radio (some are not). A DSC distress alert is a recognised emergency signal, and it also transmits your location.
  • Send a distress alert followed by a mayday voice call on Channel 16. This communicates the distress message to all vessels and shore stations in range.
  • Requires an operator’s licence, a ship’s portable radio or ship’s radio licence (free in the UK if requested online) and a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, which comes with the radio licence.

More useful links

How to call for help at Sea – RNLI

How to call the Coastgaurd

How to register or update your PLB or other UK 406MHZ beacon device

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)

HM Coastguard

Canoeing Safely – Canals and Rivers Trust

Kayacking and Canoeing Safety – RNLI