‘Lucky’ escape as RNLI rescues family swept out to sea on paddleboards

Lifeboats News Release

A family was rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) after being swept 1.5 miles out to sea after being caught out on their paddleboards

The four – a dad, mum, son, and family friend – were caught out by a combination of an offshore wind and outgoing tide on The Wirral, Merseyside on Sunday.

Hoylake RNLI’s volunteer crew came to the group’s aid on their hovercraft after the paddleboarders were spotted by an RNLI beach lifeguard on a rescue water craft.

Dad Mark said: ‘The day went from good to bad very quickly.

‘When we set out the weather was calm, but it changed very fast. All of a sudden the wind picked up and it got a bit choppy. I looked behind and the kids and my wife were struggling to keep up, and I knew we were in trouble.’

Realising they couldn’t get back to land, the group rafted themselves together using their paddles and safety leashes while they waited for help after a concerned friend raised the alarm from the shore.

Hovercraft commander Chris Williams said the group had been ‘lucky’ that the alarm was raised quickly as the group were at risk of being swept further out to sea.

He said: ‘Paddleboarding has become hugely popular and although the casualties were caught out by the wind and tide, they were wearing personal floatation devices, carrying mobile phones in waterproof pouches, and using their safety leashes.

‘If you’re heading out on a paddleboard, always check the weather forecast and tide times and tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

‘Keep a way of calling for help attached to you in a waterproof pouch or your pocket at all times, always wear a floatation device, keep your safety leash attached, and in an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

At the moment the alarm was raised, Hoylake’s volunteer crew were hosting a fundraising carwash in aid of the RNLI’s annual Mayday fundraising campaign.

The national fundraiser began on 1 May and runs for the whole month across the UK and Ireland.

Hoylake RNLI Coxswain Howie Owen said: ‘Summer sees thousands of people heading out to enjoy our coast. It’s our busiest time of year and anyone can get into difficulty on the water.

‘Our crew are ready to launch at any time, but Mayday is our call for help. We rely on the generosity of the public, raising vital funds so we can be there when we’re needed most. Your support funds training, kit, stations and fuel – just some of the things we need to save lives.’

Find out more and sign up at RNLI.org/SupportMayday

Notes to editors

· A video of the rescue can be downloaded here: https://source.rnli.org.uk/l/788eadcc7db66e6a/

· To find your nearest RNLI lifeguarded beach go to https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches

· Find out more about the RNLI’s Mayday fundraising campaign at RNLI.org/SupportMayday

· A rescue water craft is a jet ski-style craft used by RNLI lifeguards

RNLI Hoylake

RNLI Hoylake locates the stricken paddleboarders off The Wirral

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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