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A search and rescue operation by the Whitstable Lifeboat was hampered after a laser pen was shone at the lifeboat from the shore as the crew conducted a search for an overdue kayaker last seen off Hampton Pier, Herne Bay on Saturday evening.

Lifeboat helmsman Dave Parry said “We launched at 8.38pm and were a 3/4-mile offshore between Swalecliffe and Hampton when we were targeted by a blinding green light which hampered our search effectiveness. We suspect that this was a deliberate act as the individual involved would have seen the lights of the lifeboat”.

“Fortunately we we able to continue the search investigating various radar contacts and located the casualty, a 26-year old male, a 1/2-mile north of Herne Bay pier paddling towards the shore. He and his craft were brought onboard the lifeboat and taken back to Hampton were the lifeboat approached the shore as deep as water would allow before relaunching his craft to make his way ashore where the Herne Bay Coastguard Unit and family members were waiting”.

Whitstable Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Judge said “The lifeboat and crew had been tasked to search for the kayaker in the dark up to 2-miles offshore and the search was hampered by an individual directing a laser pen light towards the lifeboat crews field of vision. To shine a laser light into anyone’s eyes is a dangerous thing, but to shine such a light onto a crew at sea in the dark is not only dangerous for the crew but also to the person for whom they are searching and this act was totally irresponsible”.

“The lifeboat crewmembers of Dave Parry, Andy Williams, Tim Smith and Liam Sidders were not harmed by the incident”.