Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboats launch to four people cut off by tide

Lifeboats News Release

Ilfracombe RNLI were tasked to launch at 3.21 p.m. on Sunday 8 March following a 999 call from a member of the public, to assist four people who had been cut off by the rising tide at Lester Point, Combe Martin.

The RNLI volunteer crew launched both Ilfracombe lifeboats, the Shannon class all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation and the D class inshore lifeboat the Deborah Brown II, and made best speed towards the scene in rough conditions, with a two and half metre swell leaving the harbour, and a strong west south westerly force 6 (25 -31mph) wind, with gusts of force 7, (32 -37mph).

On arriving at the scene 20 minutes later, the crews found four people standing on the rocks with large waves breaking just below them. Whilst the people were above the waterline and in no immediate danger, the tide was still rising on one of the highest tides of the year. The inshore lifeboat with volunteer Helm, Matt Glubb, was sent close to the rocks to make contact with the people, and to reassure them. However, having assessed the situation, due to the extreme conditions, RNLI Volunteer Coxswain, Andrew Bengey made the decision to request a Coastguard Rescue Helicopter to assist.

The Coastguard Rescue Helicopter arrived shortly afterwards, and a winchman was lowered to take the people off the rocks. Whilst this manoeuvre was taking place the lifeboats stood by as a precaution in case anyone entered the water. All casualties were lifted to safety and after assessment were airlifted to North Devon District Hospital. The lifeboats remained on the scene for an hour and a half. On returning to Ilfracombe just after 5.00 p.m. the recovery of the lifeboats was delayed until 6.30 p.m. due to the still very high tide.

RNLI Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey says: 'this week we are experiencing some of the highest spring tides of the year and the high tide today was just under 9 metres. The tide can come in very quickly and catch people out. Fortunately, today no one was hurt, however we would urge people to check the tide timetables before walking along the shoreline.'

Three crew in the D class inshore lifeboat

RNLI/Neil Perrin

Ilfracombe D Class Lifeboat Deborah Brown II (library image)

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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.

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