Three shouts on Sunday, followed by one on Monday, for Appledore RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Good weather brings busy times for the volunteer lifeboat crew.


Swimmer rescued at Westward Ho! Sunday 17 June
At 9.30 Sunday morning, 17 July, a catamaran with three people on board contacted Falmouth Coastguard reporting engine failure in very light winds, west of Baggy Point. A 'Pan-Pan' message (a call for help but not as urgent as a Mayday) was broadcast over the VHF radio. The catamaran, still under sail but making little headway, was on its way to Instow. Another yacht in the vicinity responded and was on route to assist if necessary, with the catamaran reporting it did not need lifeboat assistance at that stage.

However when the catamaran arrived at the Fairway Buoy it found it could not enter the Estuary due to the wind direction, but was being blown further west. The yacht sailing to their assistance was only making 3 knots so was contacted by the lifeboat helm to stand down and the lifeboat would take over, taking the catamaran safely in tow into the River Torridge and to its mooring at Instow.

At 5.20 in the afternoon the pagers went off again with the Coastguard requesting help following a report from a member of the public that three people were cut off on an incoming tide at Zulu Bank at the mouth of the estuary near Bideford Bar.

Just as the volunteer crew were about to launch the inshore lifeboat, the launch was cancelled after the first informant had watched the three who were cut off make it safely back to shore.

At 9.30 Sunday evening numerous 999 calls were made to made to Falmouth Coastguards reporting a swimmer in difficulty off Westward Ho Slipway. The crew were immediately paged and the inshore lifeboat launched.

A young man on shore saw the person in difficulty, borrowed a paddle board from a member of the public and paddled out to assist, managing to get the unresponsive casualty onto the board but was unable to get it back to shore. The owner of a small motor boat, who became aware of the incident via the radio, went to assist and the casualty was transferred to the boat.

The casualty was then transferred to the inshore lifeboat as soon as it arrived on scene a few moments later where the crew commenced immediate casualty care, requesting the assistance of the all-weather boat as there was the possibility of another person in the water. The girlfriend of the casualty was later located on shore, was not in difficulty, and confirmed the casualty was alone.

A Coastguard helicopter was also on scene and when the all-weather lifeboat arrived it was decided an easier winch for the helicopter winchman would be from the larger lifeboat so the casualty was then transferred from the smaller lifeboat to the larger ready for winching to a land ambulance on scene at the burrows, and from there to hospital.

As both lifeboats were returning to station they were re-tasked to the same area with reports that there was indeed a second person in the water, appearing unresponsive. Following a thorough search this was revealed to be a large log and the boats were stood down, returning back to the station at 11.00 pm.

The next evening, Monday 18 July, a tasking request was received from Falmouth coastguard asking for the launch of the inshore lifeboat to help an individual who had fallen off his boat near the New Quay. The boat engine was still running and the casualty, even though he was wearing a lifejacket, was unable to get back on board. The crew quickly located the casualty and he was helped back on board and the crew checked all was then well with him.

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.