Yacht sailor David Stocks

While trying to board his boat at Conwy Marina on a windy and cold January afternoon, David Stocks slipped and fell into the icy waters. Luckily for David, he was spotted falling in.

'I was attempting to reach my yacht to collect some tools,’ David recalls. ‘The weather was pretty rough and the next thing, some spray washed over me and I’m in the water.’

There was a large swell that day – 31 January 2015 – and David was quickly dragged along the river on the outgoing tide.

He managed to grab hold of a boat in the marina as an onlooker threw him a lifering.

Another onlooker saw what was happening and called 999 for the Coastguard. Within minutes of being alerted, Conwy lifeboat volunteers Alan Flood, Greg Donald and Peter Hughes launched their D class lifeboat, May-Bob D-765, and raced to the scene.

They reached David in the nick of time – he was barely conscious. And now that help had arrived, he was in danger of post-rescue collapse.

‘I didn’t want to give up’

‘I’m not the kind of person to give up,’ David says. ‘But it got to the point where I just couldn’t hold on anymore. I just didn’t have enough strength.

‘I was in for 12 minutes and I felt every single second. It felt like an incredibly long time. At one point I looked at my hands and they were white; there was no life left. Everything I had just wanted to drift away and go to sleep.

‘I can only describe the experience as how you feel as a child – wanting to cuddle up and be warm and safe, but I didn’t want to give up.’

To try and keep David conscious and afloat, Alan got into the water with him. As Peter and the first onlooker pulled David out of the water and onto the pontoon, Alan helped to push him up from below.

They got David into the lifeboat and took him back to the station, where they treated him for hypothermia until the ambulance arrived and took him to hospital.

I saw the lifeboat arrive out of the corner of my right eye and the next thing I knew a man from the RNLI was just beside me dragging me out. They were just brilliant and kept talking to me and asking me about my grandkids to keep me conscious
David Stocks with two of his rescuers: Conwy lifeboat Crew Members Greg Donald (left) and Peter Hughes (right)

Photo: RNLI / Danielle Rush

David Stocks with two of his rescuers: Conwy lifeboat Crew Members Greg Donald (left) and Peter Hughes (right).

‘Apart from a few bruises, I’m alive’

David was treated for nothing more serious than cold and shock and the very next day, he returned to Conwy Lifeboat Station to thank his rescuers.

‘I thought it was only right I went back to the station with a donation on Sunday morning. Apart from a few bruises, I’m alive and it really does put things into perspective.’

More on this survivor story

Hear more from David and the Conwy lifeboat crew who rescued him in our RNLI Magazine feature: ‘I just wanted to drift away and go to sleep’.

Stay safe at the coast

  • Yacht sailing: View from onboard a yacht at sea
    Safety advice
    Yacht sailing and motorboating