RNLI Hoylake volunteers tasked to five emergency incidents in 24 hours
At 4:15pm on Monday 25 May the UK Coastguard contacted Hoylake RNLI for the fifth time in 24 hours requesting their hovercraft to launch to reports of several people stuck in mud off Thurstaston after a speedboat had run aground in the Dee Estuary.
Hoylake’s relief hovercraft ‘John Russell’ launched and headed to the speedboat’s reported locaton. On arrival the volunteer crew found the casualties had reached the shoreline, but the vessel had been abandoned.
Merseyside Police and Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team officers were in attendance and checking the casualties’ welfare on the shore. The hovercraft crew were asked by the Coastuard to collect further details about the speedboat to assist with enquiries. The RNLI crew checked the vessel and provided its details before deploying the speedboat’s limited anchoring equipment as it was in danger of going adrift on the next high tide. The hovercraft then returned to the station to be washed down, refuelled and made ready for her next service.
Hoylake RNLI hovercraft commander Harry Jones responded an earlier shout at 12:01pm when the hovercraft was requested to launch to Hilbre Island where there were reports of a large group of people cut off by the tide. Having just returned from another request to assist a quad bike stuck in the mud off West Kirby, the volunteers re-launched the hovercraft without delay.
Despite clear signs warning visitors to the coast that the islands were closed, the RNLI crew found 5 people stranded on Hilbre Island and 20 people on Middle Eye. Most had been aware of the tide times and had intended to stay on the island over the high tide, but a small number had unexpectedly found themselves cut off from the shore. The Hoylake and West Kirby RNLI crews in attendance established that nobody was in immediate danger and decided that given the need to observe social distancing where possible it was not necessary to transport them to the shore. The group were happy to remain on the islands until the low tide meant it was safe for them to return by foot.
Hoylake RNLI hovercraft commander Harry Jones said: ‘In these exceptional times when there are no RNLI beach lifeguards on duty on these beaches, it’s more important than ever that anyone visiting the coast also understands the risks. The Hilbre Islands remain closed at the moment due to the Coronavirus pandemic.’
‘We urge everyone to make themselves aware of dangers; checking local tide times and taking responsibility for themselves and their loved ones. If however you do find yourself in an emergency remember to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’
Over the weekend the crew at Hoylake had also been tasked to attend multiple reports of walkers cut off by the tide in the New Brighton area, but fortunately all casualties made it to shore safely and the hovercraft was stood down.
RNLI volunteers remain on call ready to respond to such emergencies at any time day or night, often putting their own safety at risk. At present there are no lifeguards on UK beaches and the RNLI is urging people to follow key safety advice and help to reduce the demands placed on RNLI lifeboat crews, UK Coastguard and other emergency services.
Notes to editorsHoylake lifeboat station has been operating since 1803. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeboat-stations/hoylake-lifeboat-station
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.