North Devon angler reflects on a close call after being swept into sea

PUBLISHED: 12:36 06 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:20 07 February 2018

Angler James Atkinson has warned others to respect the unpredictable nature of the sea. Picture: James Atkinson

Angler James Atkinson has warned others to respect the unpredictable nature of the sea. Picture: James Atkinson

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An RNLI crewman and one of three anglers cut off on a rock at Broadsands has taken to Facebook to speak about his experience

Broadsands beach near Combe Martin. Picture: Philip Halling Broadsands beach near Combe Martin. Picture: Philip Halling

An angler and RNLI crewman has warned others to respect the sea after being cut off on a rock near Combe Martin.

James Atkinson, an Appledore RNLI volunteer, said swell that left him, his cousin Josh and his brother trapped on a rock at Broadsands in the early hours of last Tuesday (January 30) ‘came out of nowhere’.

On Friday he posted a Facebook video to explain what happened and to counter rumours that had been circulating.

He thanked Ilfracombe RNLI and coastguard teams for a fantastic job rescuing his brother and cousin after he managed to make it to shore to raise the alarm.

James Atkinson took to Facebook to record a video telling what happened when he, his brother and cousin were cut off by an unexpected tidal swell. Picture:James Atkinson James Atkinson took to Facebook to record a video telling what happened when he, his brother and cousin were cut off by an unexpected tidal swell. Picture:James Atkinson

Mr Atkinson took the brave decision to cross a rocky gulley swept by waves and was swept into the sea but scrambled clear.

He said his RNLI sea survival training kicked in and he was able to remain calm, although he suffered a knee and ankle injury.

Then he had a long walk up the coastpath before he could get a phone signal.

He said they had taken every care, leaving their fishing spot half an hour earlier into the flood tide than when they had arrived. Even checking five minutes before, it was clear, but the sea quickly changed.

He said: “We have learned a lot of lessons. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge, experience and training you’ve got, it just goes to show these things can happen and situations can change like that.

“I have been in the RNLI for 10 years and I have seen more than most. I know the dangers of the sea and am prepared for the dangers of the sea and it still caught me out.”

He advised anglers if possible to carry a VHF radio – they usually had one but had not thought to take it on such a calm night.

He also hit out at abusive comments made online, which he said was little more than bullying. He said: “I would not like to think that if it was someone who wasn’t as strong-minded as me, how this would have made them feel.

“If anybody reading these comments goes out and finds themselves cut off and think they don’t want all that flack on Facebook, they swim for it and lose their life, that will be a sad, sad day.”

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