Father and son, 4, in Combe Martin kayak rescue

WATER safety experts have warned sea kayakers to double check sea conditions after a paddle nearly ended in tragedy for a family of four off the North Devon Coast. Two RNLI lifeboats were launched from Ilfracombe after the parents - on holiday with their

WATER safety experts have warned sea kayakers to double check sea conditions after a paddle nearly ended in tragedy for a family of four off the North Devon Coast.

Two RNLI lifeboats were launched from Ilfracombe after the parents - on holiday with their children from Sussex - managed to telephone the Coastguard at Swansea to alert them of their increasingly desperate battle against an incoming tide.

Both had hired kayaks and were each carrying a child, when they ventured out and got into difficulties off Watermouth at around 4.30pm on Monday.

While the mother and daughter were found safe and well at Combe Martin beach by the Ilfracombe Coastguard rescue team, the father and four-year-old son were still missing.


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Both Ilfracombe RNLI Lifeboats carried out a search along the coast before finding the man and his young son struggling against the tide approximately half-a-mile offshore from Great Hangman, to the east of Combe Martin.

Ilfracombe lifeboat coxswain Andrew Putt said the family had been caught by the current and swept along the coast.

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"By the time we found the kayak the man was extremely tired and struggling to keep it upright," he said.

"Although conditions were not severe there was a strong current running. I think if we hadn't located them as quickly as we did, this could easily have turned into a tragedy."

Volunteer lifeboat press officer Bernice Putt said the couple were very thankful to the lifeboat and coastguard teams for their quick response.

"They said that they had no idea how strong the currents were and were surprised at how far they had been carried along the coast," she said.

"There seems to have been an increase in the use of the kayaks along the North Devon coast and when used by experienced, well equipped people they can be good fun," she added.

"But to inexperienced users, who are unaware of the sea conditions, they can prove lethal.

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