Appledore RNLI rescues two people from a force 8 gale
At 5.45pm on Wednesday 14 March, in the midst of pouring rain, a south, south easterly force 8 gale howling down the river, and rough seas within the Torridge / Taw Estuary, a spate of 999 calls were received by Falmouth Coastguard from people at Instow.
They could see two people on a small inflatable dinghy in difficulty in the river between New Quay and North Devon Yacht Club in the very inclement weather. The Coastguard immediately notified Appledore RNLI and requested their help.
By chance the Appledore RNLI volunteer crew were actually on their all–weather boat Mollie Hunt, when the call came in. They were just about to disembark having taken part in a community event arranged by the blue light agencies. The lifeboat crew immediately dropped the boat mooring and headed up river towards the reported incident. They found two people in an inflatable dinghy clinging onto a mooring buoy. They were soaked through and the tender was shipping water. A second tender was tied to the first. It is understood a second man took his tender to help his friend when he saw his friend in difficulty trying to get from his boat to the land.
Unfortunately neither person was wearing a lifejacket; they had no means to call for help themselves, no effective paddles between them, no engine, no lights despite it being near sunset, and the tide was ebbing.
The casualties were taken aboard the all-weather lifeboat and taken to the lifeboat station where they were dried off, warmed up, given hot drinks and provided with safety advice. Their tenders were also recovered by the volunteer crew. A happy ending due to the vigilance of people at Instow making the 999 call, and one of Appledore RNLI’s fastest launches! This was a rescue which could have ended very differently for the casualties.
Martin Cox, Appledore RNLI Coxswain says: ‘Please always take into account the weather conditions before getting into any boat. Have appropriate means of calling for help and wear a lifejacket when on the water. Be aware of the very strong tides within the estuary and have a reliable and effective means of propulsion’.
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.