Inshore lifeboat and Chivenor helicopter called out after man falls from his kayak just off Ilfracombe Pier.

The rescue off Ilfracombe on Tuesday. Pic by Chris Wilson.The rescue off Ilfracombe on Tuesday. Pic by Chris Wilson.

ILFRACOMBE lifeboat volunteers were called out on their first shout of the year yesterday (Tuesday) to rescue a kayaker.

The man had fallen from his boat just off the end of Ilfracombe Pier, with the RNLI inshore lifeboat Deborah Brown II and the search and rescue helicopter from RMB Chivenor sent to his aid.

Volunteers’ pagers went off at 2.40pm during a dull grey afternoon of high seas, but within minutes the lifeboat was on its way to the casualty.

The crew of local trawler Our Josie Grace had already been able to pull the man from the water before mooring their boat in the harbour. He was transferred by a local coastguard team to the Chivenor helicopter.

The lifeboat crew took the overturned kayak under tow, returning to the lifeboat station, where they cleaned down and refuelled the lifeboat, making her ready for service once again.

Volunteer crew member Leigh Hanks, at the helm of the inshore lifeboat, was pleased with the outcome: “Concerned members of the public alerted the coastguard to the man in the water, and we launched within a few minutes.

“Our first shout of the year may not have ended with us picking up the casualty, but he got the help he needed, which is the important thing. We also were able to recover his craft, which stopped the chance of further 999 calls.”

Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station was among the busiest in the South West in 2013, with RNLI figures showing 64 launches, and 67 people assisted.