Night-time rescue for cliff-trap couple

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI officials in Minehead have issued new warnings to holidaymakers to check tide tables after a dramatic night-time rescue involving two lifeboats and a coastguard helicopter.

Minehead’s volunteer crew launched both the station’s lifeboats soon after 8.30 pm on Tuesday after a 999 call to coastguards from a couple in their twenties who reported themselves stuck up a cliff in St Audries Bay, near Watchet, with the tide rising below them.

The boats were quickly on scene and located the couple as a coastguard rescue helicopter stood by.

The pair were helped to scramble down into the station’s D class boat, transferred to Minehead’s Atlantic 85 and put ashore at Watchet marina a mile away, unharmed but shaken by the experience.

D class helm Richard Gay said the pair had got into trouble while attempting an evening walk along the coast.

“They ended upon a ledge of very crumbly shale about ten feet up from the sea and there was absolutely no way they could move. They had a sheer cliff behind them and water to either side,” he said.

“They were very glad to see us.”

Minehead RNLI spokesman Chris Rundle said in past years the station had started its own poster campaign warning people to check the tides before walking along the coast purely because of the high number of casualties finding themselves in similar situations.

“But clearly we need to keep driving the message home,” he said.

“If people aren’t familiar with the area they often have no concept of how quickly the tide comes in and how high it rises – and we have the second highest tidal range in the world along this coastline.

“We always recommend people to check tide tables before walking along the coast and to always carry some means of calling for help.

“Luckily this couple had a phone with them. Luckily we were able to locate them and get to them before their situation became even more critical.”

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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 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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