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Holyhead and Moelfre RNLI in multi-agency rescue

Lifeboats News Release

The quick actions of a kayaker when another got into difficulty off the Anglesey coast yesterday (Saturday 3 December) undoubtedly saved the man’s life, according to an RNLI spokesman.


A crewman watches over one of the kayaks aboard Holyhead's all-weather lifeboat Christopher Pearce

A group of ten kayakers were on their way back from a trip to the Skerries, when they got into trouble 1.5 nautical miles off the Cemlyn coast. Holyhead and Moelfre lifeboats, along with the HM Coastguard rescue helicopter and Moelfre and Cemaes volunteer coastguard teams were all involved in the rescue, which unfolded on Saturday afternoon.

The RNLI lifeboat volunteers from both stations were asked to launch just before 2.45pm. Both lifeboats launched at approximately 3pm, and began heading towards the reported location. A member of the party had set off a personal location beacon, and contacted HM Coastguard to say at least one kayaker was in the water.

As Holyhead’s all-weather lifeboat Christopher Pearce, and Moelfre’s Kiwi headed to the scene, it became apparent that the kayakers had split up and were in different locations around the Cemlyn area. The HM Coastguard helicopter arrived on scene first, and deployed a smoke flare to assist the lifeboat crews find the exact location of the casualty in the water, who was being assisted by another member the party.

The Holyhead lifeboat crew arrived at the scene, and began communicating with the two kayakers, one of whom had been in the water for around twenty minutes. They learned that the others had been instructed to head back towards the shore, and so Moelfre’s volunteers headed to locate them and assist them if required, while the Holyhead crew began recovering the two men.

Both men were brought aboard the Severn class lifeboat, along with their kayaks, and were checked over by the crew. The man who had been in the water was very cold and in shock, and was cared for by a member of lifeboat crew. He was also suffering with sickness, having swallowed sea water. The other man, who had raised the initial alarm, was assessed to be well.

The rest of the kayakers were located heading back to the Cemlyn shore, and were all found to be safe and well. The Holyhead lifeboat crew decided the best course of action was to take the two casualties back to the same location, where the Moelfre and Cemaes volunteer coastguard teams were waiting to check their welfare.

In order to transfer the men to the shore, the Y-boat - the daughter craft of the Christopher Pearce - was launched, and made four trips to take the men, and their crafts, back to land, accompanied by two lifeboat crewmen. They were then checked over by the volunteer coastguard teams, and the man who had been in the water was advised to go to Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor to be fully assessed. As well as the shock and cold the man was suffering, the risk of secondary drowning was also a factor.

After ensuring all the kayakers were accounted for, both lifeboats left the scene. Moelfre were back just before 4.30pm, and Holyhead were back to their berth by 5.15pm.

Speaking afterwards, Holyhead’s coxswain Tony Price said:

'The quick actions of the man accompanying the casualty had undoubtedly saved the other man’s life.

‘Sending out the alert so early on really was key in this rescue. With the conditions as they were, and the time of day, it meant that any later and the outcome could have been very different. The PLB devices are excellent in giving an exact location to where a casualty is, and the man who was with the casualty made the right call at the right time by using his as soon as he realised his fellow kayaker was in trouble.

‘This was a great multi-agency rescue, with our colleagues from Moelfre RNLI, Moelfre and Cemaes volunteer coastguard teams, and the HM Coastguard helicopter all being involved.'

Speaking the day after the rescue, the kayaker said he was extremely relieved to see the lifeboat.

‘I hadn’t realised how cold I’d become, and how disorientated that makes you. Once I was on board the lifeboat, I felt in very safe hands with the crewman who was looking after me.’

The man said he had been checked out in hospital, and was allowed to go home later that night.

For any further information please contact Vicki Owens, Holyhead Lifeboat Station Press Officer, on 07531 681409, or email [email protected]


A kayak is brought aboard Holyhead's all-weather lifeboat
The location of the rescue on Saturday afternoon

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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