View as PDF

RNLI issues safety warning after two kayakers capsize during ebbing spring tide

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguards at Crantock Beach, Cornwall, have issued a safety warning after two kayakers got into difficulty kayaking down the Gannel Estuary.


Two kayakers got into difficulty on the River Gannel

The kayakers were spotted at 4.35pm on Tuesday 23 May by the on duty senior lifeguard clinging to the front of their kayaks, which were heading out to sea in extremely strong currents.

Lifeguard Supervisor John Steadman says: Two lifeguards and I were in wetsuits after completing some training so we were able to respond to the incident immediately. We were soon on scene and with the use of three rescue boards and a lot of hard paddling against the ebbing river current we were able to retrieve both the kayaks and persons involved. They were very appreciative and realised how lucky they were that we were on duty. Thankfully they were both wearing lifejackets, which I think saved them from possibly drowning.’

The Gannel Estuary links up to the main beach at Crantock and during spring tides it becomes extremely dangerous with a lot of water moving back out to sea.

RNLI lifeguards recommend people thinking of going into the Rivel Gannel to speak to the lifeguards on the beach first to make them aware of their intentions and capabilities. Signage is placed along the river banks on a daily basis advising the public not to enter.

John added: ‘The lifeguards complete roving face to face patrols asking people not to go into the river. We suggest they come around to the main beach and use the flagged areas provided. During peak season we buoy off a small area of the river and have a mobile lifeguard unit in place to provide a safe area for the public to use if they wish to cool off in the river.’

The RNLI advises people who fall into the water unexpectedly to fight their instincts and remember one core survival skill – floating, until the effects of cold water shock pass and you can catch your breath. This key message is the main focus of the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water, which is now in its fourth year and launched last month. Having floated until cold water shock passes, the RNLI then advises to try swimming to safety or to call for help if you are able to do so.

The Respect the Water campaign will run throughout the summer and the charity is asking people to visit where they will find information on the effects of cold water shock and floating techniques.

Note to editors

Picture and caption attached. Please credit RNLI

RNLI media contacts

For further information, please contact Press Officer Carrie Garrad – / 07786668847.

RNLI online

For more information on the RNLI please visit News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI Press Centre


The kayakers capsized during strong currents


RNLI Lifeguards rescued two kayakers who had capsized


RNLI Lifeguards came to the aid of two kayakers who they spotted in difficulty

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland