Ilfracombe RNLI crews found a missing man, rescued people cut off by the tide and came to the aid of a strick vessel - all in one afternoon.

Ilfracombe’s lifeboat crews were kept busy yesterday (Tuesday) with three incidents in less than an hour.

Five people cut off by the tide, a missing person and a vessel with engine failure saw the launch of both of Ilfracombe RNLI’s lifeboats.

Missing man

As they headed out to search for a missing man in the Heddon’s Mouth area at around 4.20pm, another five people were spotted cut off by tide at the base of Hillsborough opposite the harbour.

The inshore lifeboat swiftly diverted to ferry them to shore before joining the all weather lifeboat and the Chivenor helicopter in the hunt for the missing man.

He was spotted from the air moments later, on rocks between Highveer and Woody Bay.

The RNLI said he was bruised and scraped as well as cold from swimming between rocks as he tried to get back to Woody Bay, but insisted he didn’t need medical assistance and was taken back to the all weather lifeboat to warm up.

Cut off by tide

As the lifeboat waited at Lee Bay to hand the casualty over to Lynmouth coastguard, another two people were spotted on a rock about to become cut off by the tide.

They opted to make their own way back to dry land and were assisted by the lifeboat crew.

Stricken vessel

Finally, the RNLI was called to a vessel that had lost all power six miles off Ilfracombe and towed her back to Watermouth harbour.

Speaking of the missing man, helmsman Matt Simpson said: “The casualty was very lucky today. He had managed to get a long way along his route, but not without injury and significant danger from the incoming tide. Much of the route he took was under water, and he had to swim on several occasions.

“We do suggest that anyone spending time on the coast or on the water makes themselves familiar with the height and time of high tide, and takes care when enjoying the beautiful walks and beaches.”

Last call for Spirit of Derbyshire?

The crew of the all weather Mersey class boat Spirit of Derbyshire are all too aware this could be their last call out in the vessel before it is replaced by the new Shannon.

Coxswain Andrew Bengey added: “We all knew that this could be the last of the Mersey’s services at Ilfracombe, and that gave every one of us very mixed feelings. There is a sadness to knowing that the lifeboat that has served us so well for 25 years will soon be leaving us, as she’s a big part of all of our lives.

“However, we have a brand new, faster, far more advanced and safer lifeboat in the Shannon class, and we are all very enthusiastic and excited about beginning service aboard her. It is certainly a bittersweet time for everyone at Ilfracombe RNLI.”