Ilfracombe RNLI launch to rescue fishermen cut off by tide
The volunteer crews launched both Ilfracombe lifeboats on Wednesday 24 June at 8.05 p.m. following reports of two men stranded on rocks by the rising tide near Grunta Beach Woolacombe.
The Ilfracombe volunteer crew were tasked to launch by the Coastguard, following a report from a passerby that two men were cut off by tide, stranded on rocks, and that the sea was already reaching their ankles. The RNLI Shannon class all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation was launched first as the fastest boat and made full speed to Grunta Bay with no wind, on a calm sea but with a metre and a half swell at the shore. The inshore lifeboat the Deborah Brown II launched shortly after. Once at sea, the RNLI Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey instructed one of the crew to put on a dry suit and to prepare to enter the water as soon as the lifeboat arrived on scene.
The all-weather lifeboat (ALB) arrived on scene some 10 minutes later to find the two men, who had been fishing, stranded on the rocks surrounded by sea, with a metre and a half swell washing across the base of the rocks. The all-weather lifeboat entered the bay and crew member Ben Bengey entered the water and swam 15 metres, carrying two lifejackets, to reach the casualties on the rocks and to await rescue.
A few moments later the inshore lifeboat (ILB) arrived and was able to pull alongside the rocks and the casualties were helped into the lifeboat. Whilst social distancing was not possible in the ILB, PPE was worn, including masks, to protect casualties and crew. The casualties were then taken aboard the ALB and both lifeboats then returned to the lifeboat station with the two men. The lifeboats arrived back in Ilfracombe harbour at 8.45 p.m. where the casualties were taken ashore and the lifeboats made ready for the next service.
Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey says: ‘at the time we arrived the tide was still rising and the rocks where the men were stranded would have been covered by water at high tide. We would urge people fishing or walking around the bays and beaches here in North Devon to always look at the tide tables and surf forecasts before setting out as the tide can come in very quickly and it is easy to get caught out. We would also recommend that people always carry a means of calling for help. If you do see someone in difficulties call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’
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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.