RNLI rescue figures reveal a busy 2014 for Hampshire and Isle of Wight volunteer lifeboat crew

RNLI Portsmouth Stock Photo

Lifeboat crews along the coast of Hampshire and around the Isle of Wight were kept busy in 2014, according to figures released by the RNLI charity today (28 January).

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Collectively, crew from the seven lifeboat stations* in the area launched on 388 rescue missions last year, to attend a wide range of incidents including commercial vessels in trouble, distressed fishermen, swimmers, and leisure marine users.

Overall the crews rescued 580 people. Of these, they gave first aid to a total of 33 people, and 18 of those rescued were classed as “lives saved” – a specific RNLI criteria where a person would have most likely died if not for the RNLI rescuing them.

The busiest lifeboat station in the county was Portsmouth, its crew launching 90 times and rescuing 80 people.

The figures also show that more than a third (133) of the lifeboat launches were after nightfall – when many people are safely at home, in the pub or driving their cars, our volunteer crews launch into the unknown to assist those in distress.

Richard Weeks, Divisional Operations Manager for the RNLI, said: ‘Yet again our volunteers have had a very busy 12 months. 2014 was the warmest year on record for the UK, but conversely the winter storms of January and February brought damaging winds and inland and coastal flooding. The former may well have enticed more people on to our beaches and into the water, while the latter no doubt made conditions worse for anyone on or near the sea.’

Richard praised the hundreds of people who carry their pager, downing tools and dropping everything to respond to the call for help day or night, come rain or shine: ‘Our volunteer crews are the lifeblood of the RNLI, given the commitment they make. Our message is that we will always launch to assist people in distress, but we are also increasingly encouraging people to be mindful of the potential dangers associated with the sea.’

2014 saw the RNLI run its national Respect the Water campaign, which aims to reduce the number of coastal drownings. In addition, the year saw the charity’s Coastal Incident Reduction teams grow in size and scope, which seeks to educate and inform members of the public, and prevent them getting into difficulty in the first place.

The lifeboat launch statistics show once again how vital the RNLI is, highlighting the need for donations and contributions from the public.

Among the notable rescues and RNLI news around the coast of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were:

Cowes RNLI was among several rescue services that went to assist a man who had been injured onboard a yacht in near-gale force winds in the Solent. Sadly the man was fatally injured. Read the full story here

The crews of Bembridge and Yarmouth battled high winds and large seas in complete darkness in October to help search for a lone sailor stranded in the Solent. Read the full story here

Lymington RNLI lifeboat assisted a man who was marooned after his yacht’s engine failed. He attempted to get to shore in a small oar-powered tender but was in difficulty after both oars snapped. Read the full story here

Calshot RNLI had a challenging rescue when they were called out after a man was seen in the Itchen River – the man was recovered but sadly he later died in hospital. Read the full story here

Portsmouth lifeboat crew launched to the crew of a yacht that made a Pan Pan emergency call after the mainstay snapped, leaving them in a precarious position. Read the full story here

Hayling Island volunteers launched after two men in a wooden dinghy capsized and radioed a Mayday call. Read the full story here

Richard Weeks continued: ‘With our lifeboats, lifeguards and safety messaging, the RNLI provides a ring of safety from the beach right out to the open seas. However, the training and equipment needed to do this costs money, so we are hugely grateful to everyone who supports in whatever way they can.’

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