Seahouses Inshore Lifeboat launches from its launching dolly

At 15.25hr on Wednesday 21 August 2013, Humber Coastguard requested the launch of Seahouses Inshore Lifeboat, to investigate the report of a partially submerged car on Holy Island Causeway. The Police had reported the incident, and there was concern that people were still in the vehicle, as the vehicle lights had come on. Additionally Aberdeen Coastguard had also received a 999 call from someone at the Causeway carpark, who thought that three people were in the vehicle.

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Stranding of vehicles on the causeway to Holy Island has accounted for many launches of the All-weather Lifeboat and Inshore Lifeboat operating from RNLI Seahouses Lifeboat Station. New Hi-tech signs have been errected to help tourists avoid having their vehicles stranded and ruined by the incoming tide. As this latest incident demonstrates, even fool-proof signage does not prevent all strandings. It also demonstrates that stranded vehicles are not always reported by the owners who have reached safety and can involve the expediture of valuable funds (which are donated by the public, the RNLI receiving no funds from Government) when the RNLI is asked to launch their volunteer crews to rescue any trapped motorists

The Inshore Lifeboat was launched and went to the Causeway by sea, while the Rescue Helicopter from RAF Boulmer was also scrambled. One arrival, the Lifeboat crew found no one in the vehicle, and the lights had operated due to being shorted out by the salt water. Details of the vehicle were passed to Humber Coastguard, while local Coastguard Rescue officers had also been mobilised on Holy Island. The occupants of the car were eventually traced to a hotel on Holy Island, where they were spoken to by Coastguard Officers.


Even at this range the lifeboat volunteers cannot be sure that there is no one still in the vehicle.


The Lifeboat volunteers have to come alongside and may have to open the doors to satisfy themselves there is no one in need of rescue, or a body requiring recovery. Had the owners reported the stranding when they reached a hotel on Holy Island, a lifeboat would not have been called to launch. In addition to the cost of launching a lifeboat, there is always some risk attached to launching even with a highly trained crew and the best possible equipment. There is also the danger that the lifeboat is required to attend another and urgent incident taking longer to reach this emergency than if it had been on standby at the lifeboat station..


Pity about the car which may be a write-off

Lifeboat Operations Manager Ian Clayton commented “While it is unbelievable that people are still getting stranded on the Causeway despite new Hi-tech signage, it is regrettable that these people today did not notify the authorities about having to abandon their vehicle, which would have avoided today’s rescue alert.”

The Lifeboat and Helicopter were then stood down and returned to station.

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