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Ilfracombe lifeboats search after upturned boat found

11:29 24 April 2014

Ilfracombe all weather lifeboat Spirit of Derbyshire was launched on Tuesday after reports of an upturned boat. Picture: RNLI/Ilfracombe.

Ilfracombe all weather lifeboat Spirit of Derbyshire was launched on Tuesday after reports of an upturned boat. Picture: RNLI/Ilfracombe.

RNLI/Ilfracombe

Both lifeboats and Chivenor helicopter search for signs of an accident at sea after alarm raised following the sighting of debris at sea.

BOTH Ilfracombe lifeboats were launched on Tuesday and the Chivenor helicopter called out after the alarm was raised when an upturned boat was found.

The searchers found an overturned kayak covered with weed, a gas canister and investigated an oil slick, but all turned out to be flotsam, with no evidence of any accident.

The lifeboats launched at around 1.45pm when the skipper of a local fishing charter boat had seen what appeared to be an upturned boat during a trip, and had reported it to the coastguard.

The search and rescue helicopter from RMB Chivenor was also sent to the scene.

As the inshore lifeboat arrived they came across a partly submersed kayak floating upside down in the water.

Volunteer helmsman Matt Simpson and his crew recovered the weed covered craft to the all-weather lifeboat, before beginning to search the area, assisted from above by the helicopter’s crew.

“We searched the area thoroughly,” said Matt, “but could find no sign of any other upturned vessel.

“As the described colour and location we had been given closely matched that of the kayak we had recovered, and there was no indication there was another boat out there, we came to the conclusion that this must have been what the skipper had seen. “Until you got quite close, it was not obvious that it was actually a kayak, and could quite easily have been mistaken for the upturned hull of a larger vessel.”

The lifeboat was then sent some six miles east of the original search area, as the helicopter crew had spotted a large gas canister in the water.

The crew recovered the canister, and upon searching found nothing of concern except a piece of yellow plastic, which they collected to dispose of.

Meanwhile the all-weather lifeboat make her way towards Lynmouth, where what looked like an oil slick had been spotted in the water.

Andrew Bengey, volunteer coxswain of the all-weather lifeboat, added: “With the inshore lifeboat working their search, we commenced our search in the direction of Lynmouth, and the reported spill. Along the way, we came across a great deal of flotsam, which we investigated, but found nothing untoward. Approaching Woody Bay, we found the spill that had been reported, a film of fuel oil on the water which we determined would not have been from an outboard engine and therefore was, for us at that time, not an immediate concern.”

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