Summer sunshine calls for extraordinary commitment from Exmouth RNLI volunteers
A hot, sunny day in Exmouth has kept the RNLI lifeboat volunteers in the town busy on Saturday 26 May. In a space of four hours the crew of the D class inshore lifeboat attended to ten incidents. The emergencies alone illustrate the commitment of the station’s volunteers, but the action doesn’t stop there as the launches coincided with a visit to the lifeboat station by a local boat club and by the BBC who were filming for a programme to be aired next January.
As RNLI Coxswain, Tim Mock was being interviewed by the BBC the first call came in for the volunteers of the D class inshore lifeboat George Bearman. They were tasked to a 16 foot speed boat with three people onboard that had broken down. The lifeboat crew towed them in noting that though the people weren’t wearing lifejackets, there were two lifejackets and a buoyancy aid onboard. As Helmsman Dave Preece says, lifejackets are designed for a reason:
‘As our charities sea safety campaign says, lifejackets are useless unless worn and I would urge people going to sea to always use their safety equipment rather than leave it lying around on the boat.’
As the crew volunteers onboard the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat Margaret Jean launched on exercise as part of the BBC filming, the inshore lifeboat crew started out on what was to be an extraordinarily busy four hours. At 11.49am they retrieved a windsurfer, diverting on route to check on a kayaker who they discovered wasn’t in trouble. Then at 12.38pm they headed back out to sea to a kite surfer who was brought ashore cold and exhausted but otherwise unhurt. One minute after arriving back at the beach, the RNLI volunteers were off again to another kite surfer who was suffering from a head injury having been hit by his board and who it turned out, had been in the water for 20 minutes. The crew brought him back to the station where he was met by local coastguard representatives and treated by a paramedic.
Several more kite surfers and wind surfers were then rescued, caught out by the prevailing conditions, as Tim Mock, RNLI Coxswain at Exmouth explains:
‘It’s a beautiful day, with brilliant sunshine and blue skies and the beach is packed as a result. But the conditions can be deceptive and today there’s been a strong south easterly wind that has whipped up a big swell. During the morning the tide was ebbing too, giving wind over tide, and that just added to the difficult conditions.
‘Today was an ideal day for the windsurfers and kite surfers and though most are proficient at their sport, sometimes the conditions can catch them out, especially around the Pole Sands, which is where most of our calls were to today.
‘One of our calls was to a small inflatable dinghy with two people onboard who didn’t have any equipment, including any oars. I would urge people taking to the water, especially on what appears to be a hot, sunny day, to consider whether the conditions are suitable, checking on tides, wind speeds and sea state. If you’re going out be prepared with the right safety equipment, including lifejackets that should be worn, and a means of calling for help. Make sure you’ve serviced your engine and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.’
Kevin Riley is the RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager at Exmouth:
‘Today illustrates brilliantly the commitment of our volunteer team at Exmouth. Our charity relies on people giving their time for free and today our crews and our shore helpers, who really are unsung heroes, have been kept extremely busy for more than four hours. This is on a Saturday when they could be with their families and yet, here they are doing what they are trained for in helping to save lives at sea.’