Lifeboat crews around the coast of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were kept incredibly busy in 2013, according to figures released by the RNLI charity today (28 January).
Collectively, crew from the seven lifeboat stations* along the coast and around the Isle of Wight launched on 391 rescue missions last year, to attend a wide range of incidents including commercial vessels in trouble, distressed fishermen, swimmers, and leisure marine users.
The busiest lifeboat station in the region was Portsmouth, whose crew launched 99 times and rescued 131 people. It was also one of the busiest in the entire RNLI, ranking the seventh busiest lifeboat station out of 236 stations.
In a year of extreme weather, crews from these seven stations* rescued a total of 433 people. This included giving first aid treatment to 30 people in total, and saving the lives of 10 people. In RNLI terms, a “life saved” is a specific criteria which states that without the intervention of the RNLI, these people would have most likely died.
In addition, the charity’s beach lifeguards, which ran on three beaches** in Portsmouth from May to September 2013, dealt with 97 incidents, in which they aided a total of 131 beachgoers. This number covers all help given from major and minor first aid to missing children and in-water rescues.
With an estimated 26,428 beach users visiting the three beaches during lifeguard patrol hours, the relatively small figure of 97 incidents demonstrates how most of an RNLI lifeguard’s work is preventative. Highly-trained to identify risks and hazards, and explain them to beachgoers before they develop into a problem, lifeguards on Portsmouth’s beaches chatted with more than 4,758 people across the summer about everything from tides to the dangers of inflatables.
Peter Dawes, Regional Operations Manager for the RNLI, said: Whether it is hot and sunny or windy and rainy, the water always presents a number of risks for visitors to the coast. We would always recommend that people take care when going to the coast and follow some simple safety tips; always check tide times before taking to the water; avoid areas where you could get swept off your feet in stormy weather, and if you’re visiting the coast, be sure to visit a lifeguarded beach during the summer months’
Peter also praised the legions of volunteers who give up their own time to go to sea to save the lives of others, and the thousands of members of the public who donate the funds necessary to enable the RNLI charity to continue its work: ‘Of course, none of this would be possible without the huge commitment of the volunteers who crew our lifeboats, and of the extended family of supporters who facilitate that.
‘From spouses and children, right through to considerate employers who allow their staff to leave at a moment’s notice to launch lifeboats, they all deserve a huge thank you from the RNLI.’
Among the notable rescues and RNLI news around the coast of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were:
* Bembridge lifeboat crew rescued a man who had suffered a stroke and was stranded on an old military fort in the Solent The coxswain had to be creative and used a rather unorthodox method using ropes, a hook and a plastic stretcher. See here
* Volunteers at Cowes were involved in a search for an inebriated man who had plunged into the River Medina in the middle of the night. He attempted to swim the river having missed the last chain ferry for the night. See here
* Two men whose fishing vessel capsized and sank in the Solent in a matter of seconds were rescued by Yarmouth RNLI. One was still in his sleeping bag when the disaster happened – both were found in a liferaft some hours later. See here
* A group of VIPs visiting Lymington RNLI lifeboat station got an insight into the RNLI’s work when the crew were called to help two people and a dog aboard a semi-inflatable yacht tender whose engine had stopped.
* Calshot RNLI lifeboat crew assisted in the rescue of two girls heard shouting for help after getting into difficulty while swimming off Lepe Beach.
* A windsurfer spotted in difficulty was assisted by Portsmouth RNLI. Had the pair not been spotted by a volunteer crew member strong easterly wind would have pushed them into the fast flowing falling tide coming out of the harbour. See here
* Hayling Island RNLI went to the aid of a Mayday from a yacht approaching Chichester Harbour in south-westerly Force 6 winds and 3-4 metre waves, after her tiller snapped and the crew lost all steerage control. See here
Reflecting on a busy year, Peter added: ‘As long as people are in distress, the RNLI will be there to help. We provide a ring of safety from the beach right out to the open seas. But the first class training and the equipment needed to do the job cost money, and we are very fortunate to have such a dedicated support network among the general public. As a charity, the RNLI simply could not continue helping those in distress and saving lives without that support.’