A dramatic and (in the end) faintly comical piece of action has unfolded in South Devon. Basically, a man on a six-metre outboard-powered cuddy in the Teign Estuary had just disconnected his kill cord in order to tie up his boat when he accidentally engaged the throttle and was thrown overboard.

kill cord warning - RNLI lassoes boat in Teignmouth

RNLI lassoes out of control boat with throttle stuck open in Teignmouth.

Peter Channing (66) was in the water as the craft leapt into a rapid circle, bouncing off other boats in the harbour. In the wake of shocking stories like the death of TV executive Nick Milligan and his daughter in Cornwall last year, it would be easy to fear the worst. But happily, this particular kill cord story involved nothing more sinister than a hapless pensioner taking a swim and an RNLI crew making a rodeo-style rescue. Concerned onlookers quickly pulled Mr Channing to safety, while an RNLI lifeboat did a great job of lassoing the boat, pulling alongside and killing the throttle by hand.

kill cord warning from RNLI

After lassoeing the boat, one of the RNLI volunteers kills the throttle by hand.

Mr Channing told the Western Morning News: "I briefly took off the kill cord and the engine suddenly sprang into life and I was over the side. My buoyancy jacket (which I always wear) inflated and I was drifting in the river. I thought my boat was going to the beach, but suddenly it reared up and started coming back towards me, bouncing off other boats. Luckily it missed me. Nobody was hurt and I suppose I can smile a bit about it now - but I will be more careful in future.”


Meanwhile, Andre Huber, Watch Manager at Brixham Coastguard, echoed Mr Channing’s newfound wisdom with all the verve of a man bored of repeating the bloody obvious: “We recommend people wear their kill cord at all times when on the boat.”


I have no doubt that sage people in suits will talk endlessly about kill cord legislation and better training before deciding that concrete action is a bit too militant. So in the mean time, avoid boring yourself with the vapid minutiae – and do two simple things: (1) learn how to prep your lines so you can tie off without removing your kill cord; and (2) watch the RNLI video of the extraordinary action by clicking on the image below:


Written by: Alex Smith
Alex Smith is a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor with a long history in boating and a happy addiction to the water. He’s worked on boats, lived on boats, bought boats, sold boats and – when he’s not actually on board a boat – he can generally be found in his Folkestone office, tapping away at the computer and gazing out to sea.