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Happisburgh RNLI aid overturned dinghy with two people in the water

Lifeboats News Release

Happisburgh volunteers went into action, with the pager sounding at 3:29pm on 28 July 2021.

Russell Pickering returning to station with the dinghy

RNLI/Philip Smith

Russell Pickering returning to station with the dinghy

Eleven minutes later the stations D-class Russell Pickering was on the water heading towards Walcott beach to reports of an overturned dinghy with two people in the water. Cubitt Siely, “Shorty”, was on the helm with a crew of Matthew Haystead and Pete Walker. En route to scene, they were informed by Bacton Coastguard unit on Walcott beach, that the people had swam back 200m to the beach.

The lifeboat was then tasked to find the dinghy which turned out to be a four metre inflatabale boat; the crew finally found the dinghy over one mile off the beach. Due to its colour it could only be seen when almost on top of it. The crew were even surprised at the distance it had travelled in such a short time.

The people were assessed by Bacton Coastguard and given advice to be checked out at A&E. Happisburgh lifeboat was instructed by HM Coastguard to recover the dinghy and return it to Happisburgh station.

Russell Pickering arrived back at station at 5:10pm where it was recovered, cleaned, refuelled and made ready for service.

Cubitt Siely said: ‘He was pleased with his crew and the professional way they had carried out their roles. Matthew was on his second call out, Pete was on his first; this was also the first time Cubitt was in commard on a D-class call out.

'This incident looks to have been caused by a change in the wind direction, so please take extra care in these circumstances. If you are in trouble or see someone in trouble call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

'We would like to remind people that the sea can be dangerous even when the sea is flat calm.'

Beach safety: know your flags:

· Red and Yellow flags: lifeguard areas, safe areas to swim, bodyboard and use inflatables

· Black and White chequered flags: are for surfboards, stand up paddleboards, kayaks and other non-powered craft. Launch and recovery area for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Never swim or bodyboard here.

· Red flags: Danger! Never go in the water under any circumstances when the Red Flag is flying

· Orange Windsock: Indicates offshore or strong winds. Never use inflatables when the windsock is flying.


• Blow-up toys and airbeds are designed for pools, not the sea where they can easily be blown offshore. If you must use them at the beach, then:

• ensure children are closely supervised

• keep nearby

• only use between the red and yellow flags

• follow the lifeguards' advice • do not take out in big waves

• do not use when the orange windsock is flying, as this indicates offshore winds

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.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

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