Figures released by the RNLI on Wednesday 27th January reveal that volunteer crews in the south west* launched lifeboats a total of 1,485 times and rescued 1,531 people in 2015. With more than nine million people visiting the region’s beaches last summer, the charity’s lifeguards dealt with 11,100 incidents, assisted 12,845 people and saved 55 lives**.
Volunteer lifeboat crews across the region’s 36 lifeboat stations saved a total of 90 lives and spent 9,989 hours on service at sea last year, equating to 416 days.
The most common launches for south west lifeboats were to sailing boats (353 or 24%) followed by call outs to power pleasure crafts (286 or 19%).
Nigel Jones, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager, said:
‘The statistics really highlight how hard our volunteer lifeboat crews have worked over the past year. Their commitment to saving lives at sea has seen them collectively give up more than 34,719 hours of their time, responding to the call of their pager, as well as taking part in training exercises to ensure they are ready for any situation.
‘The dedication that all our volunteers show is truly commendable and we thank them wholeheartedly for the selfless work they carry out, at any time of the day or night and in all weathers.’
Across the south west 282 (19%) of lifeboat call outs were in response to machinery failure. In August, Ilfracombe RNLI went to the aid of a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) which had suffered engine failure. Watch it: here.
In rough seas, The Lizard lifeboat was launched in November to a lone yachtsman after his boat suffered engine failure 19 miles off Lizard Point. Read more and watch the footage here.
In Somerset, Minehead RNLI volunteers launched to assist two kayakers who got into difficulty in strong offshore winds. Watch the rescue here.
Mudeford RNLI lifeboat was launched to rescue four people from a yacht which ran aground in bad weather on its passage from Lymington to Poole in July. Watch the rescue here.
Around nine million people flocked to the region’s 105 lifeguarded beaches last summer. RNLI lifeguards teams assisted thousands of beachgoers, from rescues in the water and helping people cut off by the tide, to first aid and dealing with lost children.
In South Devon, RNLI lifeguards at Bantham Beach were involved in a mass rescue on 31 October after a family were caught in a rip current. See footage of the rescue here. To stay safe the charity urges anybody visiting the beach to choose one with lifeguards and to swim between the red and yellow flags.
Keith Colwell, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager, advises people to respect the water:
‘The very nature of the sea means it is unpredictable and even the most competent water users can be caught out. But it’s not just people who set out to use the water who end up in it – walkers can get caught out too as conditions can change very quickly. In 2015, 106 lifeboat launches were to people who had been cut off by the tide.
‘By planning a trip beforehand people can prevent themselves from getting into trouble, for example checking the tide times so they don’t become cut off, local weather conditions, and ensuring they carry a means to call for help. We also recommend telling people where you’re going and when you’ll be back so somebody can raise the alarm if you don’t return as planned.
‘If you’re visiting the coast during the summer months, be sure to visit a lifeguarded beach.’
While the charity’s operational volunteers were busy out on the water, the volunteer fundraisers were also working hard raising thousands of pounds for their local stations.
Nigel concludes: ‘We would like to thank everyone who supported the RNLI in 2015. Without all of our volunteers, fundraisers and education teams our lifesaving service would not operate.’Follow