The inshore lifeboat crew returning after Thursday's shout - Credit: RNLI/Gudrun Limbrick
The inshore lifeboat crew returning after Thursday's shout - Credit: RNLI/Gudrun Limbrick

Ilfracombe RNLI called out to rescue kayakers twice in a week

Joseph Bulmer

Unusually at this time of year, volunteer crew at RNLI Ilfracombe were called out twice in in two separate incidents last week to kayakers in trouble.

On Saturday evening, the inshore lifeboat was called out at 6:30pm. Several calls had been received about an upturned kayak in the vicinity of Burrow's Nose, Watermouth Cove and it was thought that someone might be in the water.

The lifeboat arrived on the scene and quickly spotted the brightly-coloured kayak. However, there was no-one around.

It was with the help of people on the cliffs above who were shouting and pointing that the lifeboat crew were able to find a man struggling to stay afloat in the sea.

The strong rush of the tide around the Point, known as the tidal race, had pushed his kayak over leaving him in the water unable to get back on board.

He had tried to swim to shore but, despite being a confident swimmer, the tide was just too strong and forced him back from the shore. He had probably been in the water for about 20 minutes and was cold and exhausted when the lifeboat crew found him and were able to pull him onto the lifeboat.

The other shout on the Thursday before, involved the races at Morte Point. A man had kayaked out from Woolacombe Beach but was unable to get back because of the strong push and big waves of the high tide.

He was spotted looking as if he may need assistance by the crew of the Ilfracombe Sea Safari who called it in shortly before 5:00pm on Thursday evening.

Fortunately, the inshore lifeboat was already out on a training and assessment exercise and so was able to get there quickly and the crew spotted him immediately. They were able to take him ashore in the lifeboat with his kayak towed behind.

Leigh Hanks, Ilfracombe Station Mechanic, said: “We are delighted that we were able to rescue these kayakers and bring them back to safety. The tides have been large this week leading to areas of rough water that kayakers are not always expecting.

“To ensure that we can get to you quickly in situations like this, we ask people to stay with their kayaks, even if they cannot get back on them, as this makes people so much easier to find. And if you have with you a phone or radio in a waterproof pouch around your neck you will be able to call us straight away.”