Donate now

Appledore RNLI urges people to never take inflatables into the sea

Lifeboats News Release

It is so dangerous to take inflatables out to sea, as an incident on 6 June at Westward Ho! goes to prove.

RNLI/Matthew Rowe

Quackers’ is retrieved from the water by Appledore RNLI. Photo taken by crew member Matthew Rowe once the lifeboat exercise was resumed

Last night, Tuesday 6 June, the volunteers of Appledore RNLI were out in both their inshore and all-weather lifeboats on their normal Tuesday night training exercise, when they were tasked by the Coastguard to divert to Westward Ho! Beach following a report from public that an inflatable with three people onboard appeared to be drifting offshore.

According to an eyewitness, three men pumped up an inflatable duck and took it into the sea, together with a friend on an inflatable kayak. After only five minutes they had drifted out about 75 meters and the friend in the canoe was trying to push them back to shore, which was not appearing to work. The eyewitness called the Coastguard when the duck was 200 metres off shore with the kayaker clearly unable to help.

A member of the public immediately went out to them on his paddleboard to help and try to bring the men back to shore. Struggling against the current the man managed to tow the inflatable closer to shore, where the men all jumped out and swam to the beach. The inflatable was immediately blown back out to sea.

The inshore lifeboat arrived just as the casualties had all made it back to shore safely, and crew member Des Elesmore swam in to check all four were okay. He said: ‘The quick thinking of this member of the public with a paddleboard prevented a nasty situation turning much worse. He was the real lifesaver of the day’.

The lifeboats then returned to exercise, complete with ‘Quackers’, their new apprentice crew member.

With the strong tides and off shore breezes of the Bristol Channel, Appledore RNLI urges people never to take an inflatable toy into the sea. There is no way to control these and they get pulled out from shore within seconds. If any member of the public sees someone getting into difficulty in the water, please, as this eyewitness did, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Photo: ‘Quackers’ is retrieved from the water by Appledore RNLI. Photo taken by crew member Matthew Rowe once the lifeboat exercise was resumed


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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.