Thursday, 28 June 2007

Caught out

Yesterday was a busy day. At 12.45pm our pagers went off for the first time. 'Launch request Coastguard' was quickly followed by 'Launch ILB'. I kept driving to the boathouse, whatever the boat required we all turn up and help out where needed. By the time we arrived at the boathouse the situation had resolved itself; a dinghy in Studland bay which had capsized was now out of danger and the occupants were ashore. All's well that ends well.

At 2.15pm we were paged again. Again it was an ILB shout. This call was again caused by the strong SW wind. This time a member of the public had spotted a small grey inflatable dinghy with 3 people onboard drifting out to sea from the Northern end of Swanage Beach. The ILB quickly located the dinghy virtually back on the beach under The Pines Hotel. The 3 males onboard had had a hard paddle back to the shore against the wind and tide and had drifted a long way down the beach. The Lifeboat remained with the casualties until Swanage Coastguard arrived to give them some sea safety advice. With the situation now in hand the Lifeboat was released to return to station. Again, all's well that ends well.

There is though a lesson to be learnt from this. Both were situations caused by sunny conditions and strongish offshore winds. In these conditions it is ever so easy to underestimate the conditions. Standing on the beach one is sheltered from the full force of the wind by the cliffs, hence one thinks there is less wind than there really is. The enticing sparkles where the sun catches the sea look inviting from the beach but are, in reality, large white-capped waves. I've been there and made these mistakes so I know from first hand experience.......sunny days can catch you out. And please, don't presume that these were trivial shouts or a waste of our time.........people die in these exact same circumstances each year. Don't let it be you............Stay safe!

No comments: