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Dramatic moment kayaker was rescued by the RNLI after over an hour in the water

Lifeboats News Release

Footage has been released of a moment a father of two was pulled from the water by RNLI volunteers after an evening fishing trip went wrong.

Luckily Julio had seen the charity’s lifesaving message ‘Float to Live’ and remembered to try to save his energy as much as possible.

After initially battling to get back on the kayak, dad Julio abandoned it and attempted to swim the 150 metres to shore.

Quickly discovering that a current was pushing him away from the coast, he found himself exhausted and, now separated from his kayak, adrift off Browns Bay, near Larne, Northern Ireland.

Julio said: ‘I thought I was going to drown – it’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anybody. I kept thinking that I want to see my family again, and that made me fight for my life.

‘I almost gave up a couple of times and let myself go, but when I was under the water, in the back of my mind there was something still fighting and I swam back to the surface, then my instinct was to float, to save my energy.

Recalling advice he had seen on an advert, he decided to Float to Live. He lay on his back with his ears submerged, relaxing and trying to breathe normally, moving his arms to stay afloat, knowing that if he didn’t, he would drown.

The dramatic rescue will feature in episode three of the new series of the popular TV show Saving Lives at Sea on BBC Two this Thursday at 8pm.

Featuring footage captured on helmet and boat cameras, viewers witness dramatic rescues through the eyes of RNLI lifesavers while meeting the people behind the pagers and those rescued by the charity’s lifesavers.

Julio said: ‘I was running out of time, then I felt these two hands grabbing me on my shoulder, pulling me into the boat. It was like the hand of God.’

Volunteer RNLI Larne lifeboat crew member Sami Agnew said: ‘When you’re looking for a person in the water in the day, it can be really tricky, but at night with no light it is nearly impossible.

‘The casualty had been in the water for over an hour and we were wondering if we’d be able to find him before it was too late – then we heard cries for help. You could tell he was using all the energy he had to call out.

‘Luckily he remembered how to Float to Live as without this piece of lifesaving advice, the outcome may have been very different. It was an amazing feeling to see him floating and talking to us. We were on a high because we got him into the boat, but my heart dropped a wee bit because his colouring was just grey and you’re like, we need to make sure that this man survives.’

Once on board, the crew rushed Julio back to the shore where an ambulance – and his wife – were waiting.

Julio said: ‘These people saved my life. I was so lucky - I owe everything to that crew, they’re my heroes.’

The popular 10-part documentary is now in its eighth series and includes the lifesaving work of the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews from around the UK and Ireland.

The rescue will feature, along with three others, in the third episode of the series on Thursday 12 October at 8pm on BBC Two and will also be available on BBC iPlayer following broadcast.

Including many other interviews with lifeboat crews from across the UK and Ireland, the series also hears from the rescuees and their families who, thanks to RNLI lifesavers, are here to tell the tale.

Sami said: ‘Our lifesaving work would not be possible without donations from the public and we are delighted to be able to share a frontline view of the rescues they support with their kind generosity.’

In 2022, RNLI lifeboat crews around the UK and Ireland launched 9,312 times, saving 389 lives, while the charity’s lifeguards saved 117 lives on some of the UK’s busiest beaches.

If you get inspired to volunteer with the RNLI by the series, there are a variety of roles from lifeboat crew, to fundraiser, lifeguard to shop volunteer. Fund out more at

The RNLI’s advice to anyone who finds themself in the water unexpectedly, is, like Julio, to Float To Live:

  • Tilt your head back, with ears submerged
  • Relax and try to breath normally
  • Move your hands to help you stay afloat
  • It's OK if your legs sink, we all float differently
  • Once over the initial shock, call for help or swim to safety

Notes to Editors

Two male RNLI crew members in yellow kit stand either side of a female crew member in front of the sea in Swanage.

RNLI/Charlotte Cranny-Evans

Group shot of Larne RNLI volunteer crew members. Left to right: Frank Healy, Sami Agnew, Jack Healy.

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.