Trapped trio in Combe Martin beach alert

North Devon Gazette

Two kayakers and and a paddleboarder have been rescued after getting trapped on a beach near Combe Martin.

The Ilfracombe RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched on Thursday August 12 just after 5.45pm following an alert from coastguards.

The RNLI volunteer crew were preparing to launch the relief D lifeboat, the Elaine McLeod Scott, for evening exercise when they were called to help the three people who were stuck on a small shingle beach beyond Little Hangman hill.

The crew made their way out of the harbour in a fresh force 4 (13-18 mph) westerly wind and a choppy sea.Â

 Arriving on scene just seven minutes later the crew found the trapped trio.

Two of them, a man and a woman, had visited a local shop that afternoon and had hired an inflatable paddleboard and inflatable kayak, with the intention of paddling in Combe Martin Bay.

But they found themselves being pulled out to sea and around the headland by the strength of the rising flood tide and pushed eastwards along the coast.

They were soon separated by the tide and currents. Luckily, one of them who had a mobile phone and managed to call the hire shop, explain their situation and ask for help.

The hire shop quickly contacted one of their staff who was already out on a kayak, leading a group, and the staff member quickly paddled out to find the kayaker and paddle boarder and was able to tow first one, and then the other, to safety on the beach on the eastern side of Little Hangman.

The staff member had hoped to tow the two people back to Combe Martin, but the strength of the tide meant this was not possible. The staff member then called the shop manager who alerted the Coastguard.

The lifeboat helm assessed the situation, and a crew member was sent ashore to check that the people were unhurt, and to prepare the equipment for towing. The lifeboat was manoeuvred backwards onto the beach and a towline secured to the staff member’s kayak.

The inflatable kayak and paddleboard were deflated and stacked on top of this kayak and secured ready to be towed. The three people were assisted into the ,lifeboat and it made its way slowly in the choppy sea back to Combe Martin where they were met by the Ilfracombe Coastguard Search and Rescue team.Â

RNLI Volunteer Helm Leigh Hanks said: "It is spring tides at the moment with over nine-metre high tide and the strength of the tide can catch people out. When the tide is in full flood it isn’t possible for most people to paddle against it. We would always recommend that people check the tide timetables before heading out onto the water. Fortunately no one was hurt, and the two people had a mobile phone with them and were able to call for help. We would urge people to carry a means of calling for help and make sure it is accessible. If you get into difficulty whilst at sea call 999 and ask for the Coastguard."

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