RNLI Newhaven were launched on service by HM Coastguard on Monday 28 June at 1.28pm. The Severn class lifeboat 'David and Elizabeth Acland' and her volunteer crew were tasked to conduct a search for a possible missing casualty after a kayak was found washed up on the beach in Seaford Bay.
Newhaven Lifeboat was joined by RNLI Eastbourne, as well as Search and Rescue Helicopter 163 from Lydd, both also tasked by HM Coastguard.
Lewis Arnold, Newhaven Coxswain, said ‘We launched into a smooth sea state and slight south westerly, but the visibility was very poor due to heavy fog and hot, sunny conditions.’
The washed up kayak displayed signs of recent occupation. It was fitted out with various items of kit, including a solar panel.
The kayak was reported to HM Coastguard after it was seen washed up and unattended on Seaford beach in front of, but unrelated to, Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club.
HM Coastguard requested Newhaven Lifeboat make an expansive search and gave search patterns to undertake in the area.
The lifeboats conducted a search extending three miles out to sea and covering four miles of coastline to determine whether or not a person had become separated from the kayak and was lost at sea.
Whilst the search was underway, photographs posted on social media generated leads to a Youtube video of the launch of the vessel the previous day. After nearly five hours of searching, the Coastguard received news that the owner of the kayak had lost track of the craft and returned home safely. The Lifeboats were stood down.
Lewis Arnold, Newhaven Coxswain, said ‘We know that accidents happen and that kayaks, paddleboards or kitesurfing kit can be washed out to sea. We are happy to hear that the owner is safe. We would always rather launch to a potential casualty than react when it is too late.’
Jane Masey, Newhaven Deputy Launching Authority, said ‘We urge people who are out on the water enjoying leisure pursuits to label their kit, with their phone number. We are expecting a very busy summer ahead. By labelling your kit, you will help us avoid unnecessary launches, so that we are on hand when we need to answer a call from someone who is in trouble in the water.’
Lewis Arnold, Newhaven Coxswain, said 'You can order free labels for your craft on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency website. Taking two minutes to order these, and adding your phone number and name to your kit means that we can check quickly if you’re at home, safe and well.'
Newhaven Lifeboat was washed down and ready for service again at 5.26pm.
Notes to Editors
Established in 1803, Newhaven Lifeboat Station covers from Beachy Head to Brighton. It’s a modern afloat station and operates an all-weather Severn class lifeboat. The crews have been awarded 19 medals for gallantry.
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For more information please telephone Roz Ashton, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07900 887423 or Rosalind_Ashton@rnli.org.uk or Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer on 07785 296252 Paul_Dunt@rnli.org.uk or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
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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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