VIDEO: Busy start to season for Ilfracombe lifeboat

ILFRACOMBE’S D class inshore lifeboat Deborah Brown II experienced a busy start to the summer season when its volunteer crew responded to five different incidents in six days.

Two of the incidents were due to people cut off by the tide, at Combe Martin and Lynmouth – in the first instance the casualties managed to swim ashore unaided.

In the second the inshore lifeboat rescued a couple cut off in a small cove to the east of the village. Because of the breaking surf, the lifeboat stayed back from the shoreline and a crew member swam ashore to assist the casualties.

The pair were helped to wade out and climb aboard before being transported, unharmed but wet, to Lynmouth harbour.

The crew had already been out earlier the same day to transport a casualty who had fallen and broken a rib at Broadsands Beach near Combe Martin. With the only access to the beach via 200 very steep steps it was decided to remove them by sea and take them to a waiting ambulance in Ilfracombe.

A search was also launched after an empty kayak was washed ashore at Watermouth. Information from the coastguard established the kayak had been drifting for some time and the lifeboat returned to station. Keen to avoid a second call out, the crew picked up two children’s inflatable dinghies that had been blown out to sea on their way home.

Finally the inshore lifeboat was called to three occupants of a fishing boat whose first trip out had turned bad when the boat had broken down off Rillage Point near Hele Bay.

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The crew located them 1.5 miles to the west of the point rapidly drifting further in the tide shortly before 11pm. The boat had suffered main engine failure and the auxiliary engine they were using as a back up had fallen overboard.

Left with no means of getting back to harbour they dropped anchor but the strength of tide started to pull the boat under and they were forced to cut the anchor away.

The lifeboat crew attached a tow and brought the casualty back into Watermouth Harbour.

“The D class lifeboat is perfectly suited to operating closer to shore and in shallower waters or amongst cliffs and rocks and the volunteer lifeboat crew undergo specific training in boat handling around these areas,” said Leigh Hanks, Ilfracombe’s RNLI Mechanic.

“The summer season is typically busier for crews as people increasingly spend their time taking part in leisure activities on or near the water.

“A good number of these shouts are to those cut off by the tide and to avoid this we’d recommend checking tide times at the start of the day, available at the local lifeboat station or harbour office.”

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