Fisherman drowns on Red Sands visit
A TRIP by two fishermen to the Red Sands sea forts ended in tragedy when one of them drowned.
The other was winched to safety by an RAF helicopter.
On Saturday night the crew of a passing ship raised the alarm after spotting a 30ft fishing boat drifting six miles off Herne Bay with no lights showing.
The Whitstable lifeboat was launched and found the boat – the Lisa K – drifting among the turbines of the Kentish Flats wind farm.
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Helmsman Dave Parry said: "We launched just before 9pm and found the fishing vessel 30 minutes later. She was unlit but its engine was still running. There were no signs of anyone aboard."
The crew began searching for the boat's crew and found the body of a 21-year-old man floating in the sea. He was wearing a life-jacket.
Mr Parry said: "We attempted resuscitation but we were too late.
"We continued our search because we were concerned there might be a second person missing, as we had reports there had been two men on board when the boat left Ramsgate on Saturday."
The crew were joined by lifeboats from Sheerness and Margate and a Sea King rescue helicopter from RAF Wittersham in Suffolk.
But the search was abandoned just before 1am on Sunday. The sailor's body and boat were taken to Sheerness docks. Miraculously, a second man, the skipper of the potting boat, was found alive at 7.30am on Sunday morning after spending the night clinging to one of the forts.
He was rescued by the crew of a passing boat and then winched to safety by the RAF helicopter.
RAF winch man Sergeant Lee Clark said: "He was hungry, cold and shaken but without any major injuries or medical problems. He didn't seem to know about the death of his friend."
The man, named locally as Jason Madlin, 25, was taken to Margate's Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital with suspected hypothermia but released after treatment.
An inquest was opened on Tuesday to formally identify the dead man. He was named locally as Wade Berryman.
Both men were said to come from Weymouth.
The Coastguard said it is understood the rope the men used to tie the boat to the fort snapped and Mr Berryman dived into the sea to retrieve it.
The Lisa K was built in Devon but registered in Ramsgate. On Monday night she was sailed back to Ramsgate. Sources said she had been operating out of Ramsgate for six months, mostly potting for whelk, shellfish and crab.
The two men were not believed to have been fishing at the weekend. One source said they had been planning to have a barbecue on the fort.