Two men and a woman were pulled to safety after their dinghy became trapped under Baltic Wharf


Three sailors were pulled from the River Crouch in Essex on 19 July after a passerby spotted them clinging onto their capsized dinghy.

The group had become trapped under Baltic Wharf at around 5.30pm when their boat was swept under the structure in a fast flowing ebb.

Related articles

Luckily, doctor Nigel Garbutt had been travelling up the river on his tender when he spotted a passer-by waving frantically from the wharf, alerting him to the sailors in the water.

The 66-year-old came in closer to help the stricken crew but the fast flowing river made maneuvering his tender extremely difficult.

Nigel Garbutt

Mr Garbutt in his tender on a seperate occasion

“They were all in the water, all three of them. None of them were wearing any form of floating devise, buoyancy aid or lifejackets. One was really struggling, the other two were just getting colder and colder.

“They were clinging on to the boat for their lives. If they hadn’t, they would have been swept away. There was nothing to hold on to under that pier. The piles were 1m in diameter and completely encrusted in sharp barnacles. There was absolutely nothing you could get hold of.”

After 20 minutes, Mr Garbutt was able to pull the two men and one woman to safety, before landing two of them on their yacht club’s slipway.

Mr Garbutt, gave a third a lift to Burnham on Crouch lifeboat station, who had been preparing to launch to the scene when they received reports that the crew had all been successfully rescued.

Shortly after, volunteers from the station assisted the dinghy owner in recovering his vessel from the wharf.

Helmsman Tony Lacey said: “I must admit I was quite surprised that there didn’t really appear to be any damage. There might have been a few scratches and things on it from all the barnacles on the post. All his sails look absolutely fine, we rolled them all up and that was it done really.”

Speaking about the dangers of not wearing a lifejacket, he said: “If you’ve got people that are in the water swimming around and then going under the wharf as well, it’s a dangerous position to be in.

“The way that the tide roars under the wharf, and then you’ve got lumps of structure under the water, it’s not a position you want to be in and certainly not one without a lifejacket.”