Another day – another complex rescue for Appledore RNLI.

Shortly after 11am on Friday morning April 22, the Falmouth Coastguard notified Appledore RNLI of a boat in difficulty on the south tail, Bideford Bar

. Two people were on a private fishing boat and had been fishing in the channel near Middle Ridge Buoy. When they lifted their anchor it became tangled around their propeller, the boat lost power, their anchor dragged and the tide quickly swept them towards the notoriously dangerous south tail. Realizing what a potentially dangerous situation they were in, they immediately called the Coast Guard for help.

The inshore lifeboat was launched within minutes. Despite the proximity of the lifeboat station, by the time it reached the victim, the fishing boat had drifted over the tail and into the breaking waves. A classic example of how quickly a situation can change and how a routine fishing trip can go horribly wrong. The fishermen were experienced and well equipped with a radio, life jackets and a good boat.

The shallow water in the south tail creates breaking waves when the main channel can be nearly flat. Fortunately with an east wind and good weather, the waves were regular. The lifeboat positioned itself to enter the lull between the waves, the volunteer crew cast the line and towed the boat safely out of the waves and then to the boat’s anchorage at Instow.

Helm’s lifeboat, Del Elesmore, explains: “The fishermen did exactly the right thing to call the Coast Guard as soon as they realized they had a problem. If they had left it until they were in the waves, the situation would have been more dangerous. This could have resulted in the fishing boat capsizing or a victim falling overboard. They knew what to do and how to secure the tow so we didn’t have to try to get our crew on board in these conditions.

He adds: “If anyone gets into trouble, please radio the coastguard on channel 16 or call 999 as soon as they realize there is a problem, before it gets serious.” The lifeboat crew would rather be called for a false alarm with good intentions than be called too late to save a victim.”

Photo: Appledore RNLI Webcam

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The charity RNLI saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service along the coasts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The RNLI operates 238 lifeguard stations in the UK and Ireland and over 240 lifeguard units on beaches in the UK and the Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of the coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its lifesaving service. Since the RNLI’s inception in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved more than 142,700 lives.

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