Volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews across the south west will remain on call, as always, over the festive season this year. Whatever the weather or time of day, the charity’s volunteers will be ready to leave partially-unwrapped presents or half-eaten turkey this Christmas, to launch the lifeboats and rescue anyone in trouble at sea across the region.
Last year, over the festive period between Christmas Eve and 2nd January, south west lifeboats launched 19 times and rescued 10 people, from 13 of the region’s 35 lifeboat stations. The volunteers at St Helier Lifeboat Station were the busiest; launching a total of four times, while the crews at St Peter Port, Newquay and Ilfracombe launched twice. Exmouth, Falmouth, Looe, Lyme Regis, Penlee, Plymouth, Poole, Salcombe and Weymouth all launched once over the festive period.
Last year there was a Christmas Day shout for the volunteer crew at St Helier Lifeboat Station. Both lifeboats were launched following the discovery of an empty yacht which was found drifting off La Corbiere at approximately 12pm. The search for a missing yachtsman was later stood down due to poor weather conditions.
On Guernsey, the volunteer crew at St Peter’s Port were called out on 30th December, when volunteers assisted a local 10m fishing boat with a fouled propeller, and on 31st December they were launched again to two people trapped on Lihou. Read more about the rescues here.
In Cornwall, both Newquay RNLI inshore lifeboats were launched on Tuesday 30 December to assist people who had gone into the sea at the northern end of Holywell Bay to rescue a sheep and a dog which went over a cliff.
On 27th December Plymouth RNLI lifeboat launched to reports of a dinghy in difficulties following multiple 999 calls to the Coastguard. Once on the scene the inshore lifeboat crew established that no assistance was needed and returned to the station. Falmouth RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched on 29th December last year following concerns about the occupant of a yacht in Falmouth Harbour.
Poole RNLI lifeboat was on a training exercise on December 30th when they were called to a vessel in distress with an anchor and chain around its propeller in Poole Bay. Read more about the shout here.
Looe RNLI’s D Class lifeboat Ollie Naismith launched on New Year’s Day to assist a local windsurfer in difficulty. The windsurfer was located off the Banjo pier East Looe and had got tangled in his gear. More details can be found here.
On 2nd January, the volunteer lifeboat crew at Salcombe RNLI were called out to reports of persons cut off by the tide in Starehole Bay. The inshore lifeboat investigated, but found the individuals to be fishermen planning a long night of fishing.
James Millidge, Community Incident Reduction Manager, says:
‘Our dedicated volunteers are on call every day of the year, including Christmas and New Year. While most people are settling down to spend quality time with family and friends over the festive season, it is testament to our volunteer’s absolute commitment that they carry a pager and launch the lifeboats to those in danger at sea.
‘Conditions can be very challenging and unpredictable during the winter and tragically in the past we’ve seen a number of fatalities around the south west coast during Christmas and New Year. We want people to enjoy the region’s coastline throughout the winter and over the festive period but it’s important that they are fully prepared for whatever activity they’re doing, with appropriate equipment, clothing and the knowledge of what to do in an emergency.
‘We would urge everyone to Respect the Water. If people want to go for a dip in the sea over the festive period we’d encourage them to go to an organised event, of which there are many around the south west on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Whilst there is safety in numbers, even at the organised events swimmers are still responsible for their own safety, so they should think sensibly, consider the weather conditions and know their limits in the water.
‘We hope this Christmas and New Year is a safe and healthy one for everyone.’
If you are planning on visiting the coast over the festive period, please visit: www.rnli.org.uk/seasafety for the RNLI’s free all year round safety advice for sea users.Follow