Torbay RNLI volunteers launch seven times in one day

Lifeboats News Release

The volunteer crew of Torbay RNLI demonstrated their ultimate commitment to saving lives at sea when they launched seven times on Monday (15 August).

The first call came in at 8am for the all-weather lifeboat to assist a 14-metre sailing vessel on passage down the English Channel which had picked up a plastic sheet around her propeller approximately 20 miles east south-east of Berry Head in the early hours of the morning. The crew made their way under sail to Torbay and met the Torbay RNLI lifeboat for a tow into Brixham Harbour. The lifeboat was back at station and ready for service at 10.10am.

Then shortly before 1pm the all-weather lifeboat was set to sea again to a vessel which had suffered engine failure three miles south of Berry Head. The casualty vessel was taken under tow by the lifeboat.

Whilst the all-weather lifeboat was conducting a tow, Torbay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was tasked at around 1.40pm to a kayaker who was in difficulty in the water south of Berry Head in choppy easterly conditions. The kayaker had raised the alarm with a Mayday call to the Coastguard. The inshore lifeboat located the casualty and retrieved them from the water, and transferred them to the nearby all-weather lifeboat for medical assessment. The casualty was then airlifted from the lifeboat and taken to hospital. The inshore lifeboat took over the tow of the disabled vessel, so a helicopter transfer could take place.

Shortly after 3.30pm the pagers sounded again for both lifeboats to launch to four people reported in difficulty on the rocks at Corbyn Head. All four casualties were retrieved by the inshore lifeboat and put aboard the all-weather lifeboat for return to Torquay Harbour.

The inshore lifeboat was then tasked at 4.20pm to search for a possible person in the water near Arm Chair Rock. Volunteer crew searched the area but the casualties were then confirmed as being at Babbacombe. The inshore lifeboat was then released to return to station.

As the all-weather lifeboat put their casualties at around 3.55pm, the volunteers were then diverted to Babbacombe to reports of two people in the water. The casualties were recovered to the shore and given medical support by the lifeboat crew, before given further assistance by HM Coastguard volunteers. The lifeboat returned to station at 5.30pm.

Mark Criddle, Torbay RNLI coxswain, says: ‘Monday was an extremely demanding day for the volunteers at Torbay RNLI, especially as we were all tired following a packed weekend of events for our 150th anniversary and several long shouts.

‘Being in the middle of summer it’s not unusual for us to be launched several times in a day but Monday was quite exceptional. It illustrates the ultimate sacrifice our volunteers are prepared to make to respond to people in need. Our thanks must go to our families and employers for their continued understanding and cooperation.

‘We’ve experienced some strong easterly winds in the last couple of days which made conditions on Monday challenging both on and in the water. Our advice is to always respect the water and never underestimate its power. If you’re heading out on the water make sure you are prepared with all the necessary safety equipment, including lifejackets and a means of calling for help. If you’re going to the beach, always read the safety signage, know your ability and check the tide and weather conditions.’

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For more information contact Emma Haines, RNLI Public Relations Manager, on 07786 668847 or or the RNLI Duty Press Officer on 01202 336789.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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