The news that 20 surfers were in trouble at woolacombe saw the inshore and all weather lifeboat crews from Ilfracombe down buckets and don helmets on Saturday afternoon.
ILFRACOMBE’S volunteer crews downed sponges and took to the helm after both RNLI lifeboats were called out yesterday (Saturday) during the middle of a charity car wash.
The lifeboat station had been hosting the fundraising Sponge Our Saloons (SOS) event when a symphony of pagers sounded just before midday, after some 20 surfers were caught in a rip tide at Barricane Beach, Woolacombe.
Swansea coastguard requested both the inshore and all weather lifeboats to attend, together with the search and rescue helicopter from RMB Chivenor.
Moments away from the scene, the lifeboats were stood down as the message came through that all the surfers had managed to make it back to shore.
Around low tide and with a south-easterly wind, rip-tides are a common occurrence at Barricane, said coxswain Andrew Bengey.
“Luckily, all those in the water did manage to get to shore by themselves, under the watchful eyes of the helicopter crew and the local coastguard team.”
Back at the lifeboat station, the crew recovered the boats, and then picked up their sponges again…
“It shows the dedication of our volunteer crew members that they would carry on right where they left off, washing cars in exchange for donations, right after returning from a lifeboat shout,” added Tony Gillam, fundraising branch chairman.
Ilfracombe RNLI’s car wash event, Soap Our Saloons, is the first event of the year in aid of the charity’s £1 million appeal for the new launch and recovery vehicle needed for the new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat.