Clacton RNLI volunteers kept busy with multiple launch requests
Thursday evening proved to be the start of a busy few days for the volunteers at Clacton RNLI with multiple requests to launch coming in.
At 5.39pm 26 July Clacton’s Atlantic class lifeboat was launched to a yacht aground near the entrance to the River Colne.
While further crew members were awaiting their return, the pagers sounded again at 6.20pm, this time to a person in the water at Clacton Pier. Due to crew being on station Clacton’s D class was launched within two minutes with two crew members aboard.
On arrival on scene there was a male holding on to a life ring that had been thrown down from the pier, which undoubtably saved their life. Shouts from the pier indicated there was another male in the water. The D Class made a rapid search of the area indicated, but there were concerns the male that was holding on to the ring was losing their grip. The crew pulled them aboard the lifeboat and landed them on the beach to an awaiting ambulance before returning to the search.
The Atlantic lifeboat was called back leaving one crew member aboard the grounded vessel to await RNLI Mersea’s lifeboat to complete the recovery.
All available crew not afloat were requested to help with the search around and under the pier alongside the coastguard mobile units and those of the ambulance service. UK Coastguard’s rescue helicopter also joined in the search.
The search was paused at 11pm to restart again at first light. Just as the crew members were arriving home their pagers sounded once again at 11.40pm, this was later cancelled on arrival at the boathouse. Most of the crew returned home and readied themselves to recommence the search at 4am, while some chose to camp out at the boathouse.
Both lifeboats launched at 5am the following morning (27 July), making best use of a low tide and morning sunlight. The lifeboats searched alongside shore crew and the coastguard mobile units, once again searching as far as they could wade, around and under the pier unit until 8am.
The search recommenced in the evening to coincide with the next low tide at 7.10pm, again no trace was found. As the doors were closed on the boathouse an exhausted crew were once again called out. This time to a ‘MAYDAY’ call from a vessel with two people on board near Foulness Sands, that had been caught out by the strong winds and lashing rain that had whipped up. Walton RNLI had also been requested to launch to the ‘MAYDAY’ too, so once the vessel had been located they escorted them into Brightlingsea, releasing Clacton’s Atlantic 85 to return to station. Helmsman Tim Sutton commented; ‘It was like being in a washing machine.’
On the morning of 28 July at approximately 8am the body of the missing teenager was discovered near the pier.
David Wells, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Clacton said; It has been a difficult time for all involved in the search but would like to extend our deepest sympathy and thoughts to the family at this very traumatic time.’ Mr Wells went on to say; ‘It has been truly heart-warming how the community came together in the last few days to support the search in anyway they could, from the Atlanta café staying open late into the night to feed those searching, the local supermarkets suppling water and food during the continuing search, and just as importantly the individual members of the public turning up with donations and offers to help in anyway they can. It really showed the good in our community that we can be proud of.’
RNLI media contacts
- Richard Wigley, Lifeboat Press Officer, Clacton RNLI: 07903 424698
- Clare Hopps, RNLI Regional Media Officer, North East and East: 07824 518641
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.