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North Berwick RNLI respond to back-to-back call outs

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteer crew members from North Berwick RNLI launched at 4.07pm on Sunday (20 August) after a kayaker capsized off Craigleith Island. Whilst the rescue was ongoing a second incident involving four stand up paddleboards was unfolding off Seacliff beach, three nautical miles to the east.

The first casualty was being supported by a second kayaker after their sit on top kayak had filled with water and tipped over during their fishing trip. Both were wearing buoyancy aids and were able to call for help as their phone was in a waterproof bag.

The lifeboat arrived on scene at the same time as local tour boat Sula III which had responded to Aberdeen Coastguard’s call for help on VHF radio. The lifeboat took both casualties on board and returned to North Berwick where they were checked over by members of the shore crew and warmed up.

Meanwhile, North Berwick lifeboat was tasked to assist four stand up paddleboarders in difficulty off Seacliff beach. Arriving on scene the lifeboat was updated by members of the Dunbar Coastguard Rescue Team and identified the group of paddleboarders.

The group had become separated by strong offshore winds and decided, after a bit of panic set in, to put down anchors, held on two of the paddleboards, and call for help. The lifeboat returned the group and their boards to the beach where members of the Dunbar and North Berwick Coastguard Rescue Teams assisted with the recovery of the boards once on shore.

Helm of North Berwick lifeboat, John McCarter said; ‘Both of these incidents had a potential to become a lot more serious, but in both situations the casualties decided to call for help early, preventing the situation escalating’.

‘Wearing a buoyancy aid and having a waterproofed means of calling for help on your person really can save your life. It was great to see the paddleboards with anchors, which stopped the boards, and the casualties, being blown out into the North Sea.

‘When setting out on a paddleboard or sit on top kayak always think about the weather and tide, how it may change and what the impact on your plans will be. Offshore winds can quickly take you away from safety and really should be avoided.’

In 2022 the RNLI as a whole saw a 126% increase in the number of call outs to paddleboarding incidents. In the past 5 years this number has increased 422% with 77 paddleboarder’s lives being saved, 32 last year alone.

As a result the RNLI is promoting four key safety messages for paddleboarders:

  1. Wear a buoyancy aid
  2. Carry a phone in a waterproof pouch
  3. Wear the correct leash
  4. Avoid offshore winds

Notes to editors

  • In 2022 RNLI lifeboats from 238 stations across the UK and RoI launched 9,312 times saving 389 lives, RNLI Lifeguards saved a further 117 lives.
  • It cost £1,400 a year to train each crew member in the lifesaving skills they need to answer the call for help
  • 97% of the RNLI’s frontline lifesavers are volunteers including over 5,700 lifeboat crew members.
  • In 2022 it cost the RNLI £188M to run it’s charitable lifesaving service, 6 in 10 of the lifeboat launches were funded be generous supporters leaving the RNLI a gift in their will.

RNLI media contacts

Matthew Gibbons, Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer, North Berwick, [email protected]
Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 07826 900639, [email protected]
Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 07920 365929, [email protected]
24 hour RNLI Central Press Office, 01202 336789 or email [email protected]

Lifeboat crew members holding an anchor attached to a paddleboard during the rescue

RNLI/North Berwick

North Berwick RNLI recover paddleboard with anchor

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.