German man found half way across Channel 'trying to get to UK' on a paddleboard

Man's claims he paddled 14 miles in seven and a half hours are met with scepticism

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The Independent Online

A German man has been found halfway across the English Channel on a paddleboard, claiming he was trying to get from France to the UK.

A boatload of divers discovered the man eight miles from the Dover coast in the morning and informed the coastguard, who came to take him to the English coast.

The man reportedly said he had departed from the French coast seven and a half hours before and travelled 14 miles during the night in a bid to reach Kent - claims that have been met with scepticism.

Chris Webb, owner of Dover-based diving group Mutiny Diving who was part of the crew that discovered the man, said: “We were in the channel heading towards the shipping lane, when we noticed there was a very large container ship slowing down in front of us, which is quite a rare event.

“Eventually one of the crewmen on board noticed there was something in the water. So we allowed the other ship to go past and then approached this object in the water and as we got closer we could clearly see it was a person on a paddleboard.

“We approached him to make sure he was okay and not in any imminent danger. And he clearly wasn’t. The gentleman on board was a European guy aged 27 – 30. He looked to be in good health and not any particular danger.

“I informed the local coastguard, who liased with the order patrol force. We were then asked to stay on station in the vicinity of this guy for a period time. The man was clearly safe and well.

“We stayed there for about 20 minutes just chatting to him making sure he was fine. Then the border patrol boat turned up and intercepted the guy and then either took him into custody or took him back to the UK and processed him from there.

“It’s not illegal to row across the channel, but it’s very bizarre to be on a paddle board with a piece of luggage in the middle of the shipping lanes. He seemed perfectly coherent and seemed in good health.

“He said he had departed from the French coast at 12am that night and we spotted him around about 7:40am. His claim was that he’d left at midnight and had managed to paddle something like 14 odd miles in seven hours. It’s a bit odd.”

Mr Webb said he was sceptical about the man’s claims he had paddled such a large distance on a paddleboard during the night.

He added: “In my opinion, this guy had certainly not paddled 14 miles during the night across the shipping lanes.

“You could almost smell the freshness of the Lynx aftershave he’d put on. He’d not been there for seven and a half hours. Whether he’d been dropped off by another boat remains to be seen.”

It is not the first time such an incident has occurred.

“It has happened before, not recently. It happened a year or so ago and a similar sort of thing but further ashore. A person was on a lilo that got about 20 miles across the channel," said Mr Webb.

“The man didn’t seem in any sort of distress. But however he was in the middle of the shipping lanes, which begs a question.”

Border Officials reportedly investigated the incident but said that, due to the man's nationality, no immigration offences had been committed.