Father and daughter in dramatic sea rescue
Two kayakers are lucky to be alive thanks to St Davids RNLI after finding themselves in serious danger.
When experienced kayakers Chris Coley and his 18-year-old daughter Molly Basson set off on a kayaking trip around Ramsey Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast on Saturday 14 September, they were reminded of the importance of respecting the water at all times.
The father and daughter were well prepared for the trip having researched the route beforehand and took the correct equipment with them.
However, having set off late morning in glorious sunshine they were soon battling against a roaring current. Chris and Molly decided to stay close to the coastline to prevent being pulled out to sea, but as they attempted to get out of the strong current and through the gaps between the rocks, that’s when they came into trouble.
The front end of Chris’ kayak got caught in the swell and turned him over. He managed to clamber onto the rocks, then panic set in, his daughter’s kayak had turned over too.
“All I could see was Molly’s overturned kayak, but I couldn’t see her. At that point I was thinking of jumping in before seeing her re-appear. Luckily, Molly’s water sack had anchored her to the kayak. I was trying to stay calm because I didn’t want to worry Molly but I knew we were in trouble.’
Molly described the feeling of when she was in the water: ‘I didn’t realise how long I was under the water until my Dad told me, I was just focused on grabbing hold of my paddle and the kayak. The current felt so strong as it was throwing my body around. A little voice in my head told me to lie on my back and kick my legs. As soon as I did this everything became much easier and I was able to reach the rocks.’
Chris and Molly tried their best to get back in their kayaks but they kept overturning. The water was rising against the rocks, Molly recalled beginning to panic and looking at her Dad to say ‘this isn’t going to work, we have to call someone’.
They were both well prepared and had on them a means of calling for help in a waterproof pouch, so dialled 999 and asked for the Coastguard. The volunteer crew from St Davids RNLI were paged and within 20 minutes had launched their all-weather lifeboat and were on scene.
In order to get closer to Chris and Molly, their smaller Y-boat went to collect them. On seeing the lifeboat appear, Molly said:
‘When I saw the lifeboat, I felt my body release and all the worry and panic leave. As I was getting on the boat a huge wave came and moved the boat. I am so grateful to Tom on the crew who grabbed hold of my lifejacket to make sure I didn’t bang my head and suffer any injuries.’
‘I can’t tell you the relief I felt seeing the lifeboat. I am so grateful to all the crew from the RNLI who came to rescue me and my daughter. If we had been on the rocks any longer the situation would have become severe very quickly. I don’t want to think about what might have happened’.
Dai John, Coxswain of St Davids RNLI, said:
‘We are so glad that we able to help Chris and Molly when they needed us and that there was a positive outcome.
‘Both of them prepared themselves in exactly the right way, they were wearing the right equipment and had with them a means of calling for help. Without that we would not have known they were trouble or where they were.
‘Our advice for kayakers is to always carry a means of calling for help, and keep it on you at all times when out on the water. This means that if you capsize and get into trouble, you can call for help and increase your chances of survival.’
RNLI media contacts
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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.