Donaghadee RNLI rescue kayaker off Cloughey Beach on Father’s Day

Lifeboats News Release

The volunteer crew of Donaghadee RNLI were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat yesterday, (Sunday 19 June), at the request of HM Coastguard to a kayaker reported to be in need of assistance.

It had been reported to the Coastguard by an informant that the kayaker appeared to be struggling against the tide in strong off shore winds just off Cloughey Beach and was being swept out to sea.

The crew were paged at 2.17pm and with a compliment of six volunteer crew members under the command of Coxswain Philip McNamara, they launched Saxon into a moderate to rough sea, a Force 6-7 northwest wind and excellent visibility.

While the crew were making full speed to the last reported position of the kayaker, Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team who were on scene, managed to keep eyes on the kayaker in poor conditions and report back that he was approximately 2km just north of the North Rock.

It transpired that the casualty had initially been out in a blue kayak and had got into difficulties. He managed to swim ashore and proceeded to go out in a yellow kayak in order to recovery the blue one. With a strong offshore wind and unable to locate the blue kayak, he attempted to return to shore and began to struggle.

At 2.55pm approximately, HM Coastguard also tasked a search and rescue helicopter which was en route from Prestwick. In the meantime the Coastguard Rescue Team were able to report that the casualty was now approximately 1km north of the North Rock.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene, the crew quickly located the casualty sheltering on the North Rock itself. Due to shallow conditions and the sea state beyond the capability of the lifeboats daughter boat, Second Coxswain John Ashwood used a loudhailer to request the kayaker make his way off the rock and toward Saxon. He was able to do this and he was recovered onto the safety of the lifeboat. Subsequently, the search and rescue helicopter was stood down.

Once onboard, a casualty care assessment was carried out to ensure the casualty was not suffering any ill effects from the situation and it was determined that he was well.

It was decided to return to Portavogie Harbour where the gentleman was reunited with his son and handed over to the care of the Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team.

Brian McLawrence, Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘There was great teamwork today between the Coastguard Rescue Team and ourselves, a pleasure to work with them as always. Time is of the essence in these situations. We would advise that as soon as you suspect that you or a loved one is in trouble, waste no time, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. The man was lucky to get to the relative safety of the North Rock itself,. We wish him all the best and hope he enjoyed the remainder of his Father's Day. We do recommend if you are going to enjoy the water on a kayak or a standup paddle board that you wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, and carry a means of communication such as a VHF radio or your mobile phone in a waterproof case – it could save your life.’


RNLI/Margaret Ramm

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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 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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