Two shouts in one day for Ilfracombe RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

The Ilfracombe inshore lifeboat was launched twice on Tuesday 1 September. The first time to assist two kayakers struggling against the tide and the second time to a fishing boat with engine failure.

D class inshore lifeboat with three crew

RNLI/Neil Perrin

Ilfracombe RNLI D class inshore lifeboat (library image)

The D class inshore lifeboat Deborah Brown II was launched just before 5 p.m. to assist two adults on an inflatable kayak at Rillage Point near Ilfracombe. The kayakers had raised the alarm with the Coastguard when they got into difficulties in the strong tide around the point. On arriving at the scene 5 minutes after launch the crew found the two adults struggling against the tide attempting round Rillage Point to return to Combe Martin. The RNLI crew assessed the situation and saw the kayak appeared to be slightly deflated. The RNLI Helm decided that the safest option was to take the people and the kayak onboard the lifeboat. The lifeboat then took the two kayakers back to the beach at Combe Martin and then returned to the station ready for the next service.

RNLI Volunteer Helm Ben Bengey says: ‘when we arrived it was two hours before high spring tides and there was an extremely strong tide around the point making it very difficult for the kayakers. The conditions can be very deceptive as the sea was calm with only a slight swell. We would always recommend that people consult the tide timetables before setting out.’

The pagers went off for a second time just after 9.00 p.m. this time to assist a small fishing boat with engine failure. The 14-foot fishing boat with three people on board raised the alarm with the Coastguard when both their main and auxiliary outboard engines failed. The D class inshore lifeboat launched again and headed out from the harbour in the dark and soon saw lights from the drifting boat. The fishing boat had drifted from its original position off Widmouth Head to a point 500m from Ilfracombe harbour in the strong tide. The inshore lifeboat towed the fishing boat back to safety in Ilfracombe harbour.

RNLI Volunteer Helm Stuart Carpenter says: ‘the fishing boat crew were experienced sailors and the boat was well maintained. It was unlucky that both the main and auxiliary engines failed. It was fortunate that the crew were able to contact the Coastguard or they may not have been seen drifting in the dark. If you are heading out onto the water we would always recommend that you carry a means of calling for help.’

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.

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Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

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