Minehead lifeboat volunteers rescue five paddle-boarders
Five paddle-boarders caught out by treacherous wind and tide conditions in the Bristol Channel were rescued by Minehead lifeboat crew this morning.
The group, all in their 20s and from South Wales, had put out from the nearby beach but once out of the lee of the land found themselves having to contend with a gusting, offshore south-westerly wind.
Minehead RNLI launching authority Dave Smith said the volunteer crew had noticed the group were in difficulties just as they had completed their routine Sunday morning exercise.
“We watched them for a while and it was clear they were going nowhere against the wind,” he said.
“The tide was just starting to flood as well and if we hadn’t intervened they would inevitably have been pushed further out to sea and further up the coast so we decided we had to go and gather them up.”
The five were originally spotted by D class helm Phil Sanderson, who then faced the challenging task of navigating the boat through a maze of fishing stakes to reach them.
“By the time we got to them they were off the boards and standing chest-deep in the water,” he said. “But every time they tried to take a step nearer the shore they got pushed further out.”
The casualties, all cold and two suffering from shock, were brought ashore by the station’s D-class boat and given hot drinks at the lifeboat station.
Station operations manager Dr John Higgie said all five had been properly kitted out.
“That protected them from the worst of the cold but they were all clearly upset by the experience,” he said.
“The problem we have here is that the high ground immediately behind the station gives a degree of shelter from south-west winds in the bay but as soon as you get out of the lee of it conditions can change within a matter of yards - which is precisely what happened in this case.
“The added complication is that if you are standing on a paddle board your body actually acts as a sail.
“It all underlines the importance of checking on weather and tide conditions before putting to sea.”
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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