A mass rescue of swimmers caught in rip current at Rest Bay is just one of the incidents attended by RNLI volunteers from Porthcawl who had a busy afternoon yesterday as the fine weather saw people flock to the coast.
Porthcawl RNLI’s volunteer crew were first paged by HM Coastguard on Tuesday 5 September at 12.39pm which led to the crews responding to multiple incidents during the afternoon.
Initially the volunteer crew launched the charity’s relief D Class lifeboat Peggy D following a report that swimmers were in difficulty at Sandy Bay (Coney Beach). The crew conducted a search of the bay with no one found to be in difficulty.
Following the search the crew were re-tasked by HM Coastguard to assist a wing surfer who was in difficulty to the south of Porthcawl Breakwater. The wing surfer was taken onboard the lifeboat and returned to Newton Bay along with his equipment.
As soon as the D Class lifeboat was recovered, an immediate call was received via VHF radio from the Coastguard, who had taken a 999 call regarding a mass rescue incident at Rest Bay in the rip current at the point.
Initial reports suggested that a group of eight swimmers were in difficulty, some of whom had been attempting to help others. An instructor from Porthcawl Surf School, a surfer who was previously an experienced lifeguard and an off duty RNLI lifeguard had all gone to the aid of the group. The swimmers were caught in the rip current on the point during the outgoing tide and were being swept out to sea.
The D Class lifeboat was immediately relaunched and made best speed to Rest Bay. The charity’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat Rose of the Shires was also launched on service. Coastguard Rescue Teams from Porthcawl, Port Talbot, Llantwit Major and the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter were all also tasked to the incident.
The D Class helm, Joe Missen said:
‘We arrived on scene first to find four teenage swimmers and a body boarder clinging to the surf boards of those who had paddled out to help them, some distance from the shore. Some of the other swimmers involved had already been rescued and were on the beach.
‘The Atlantic 85 lifeboat arrived shortly after us and between us we took the swimmers and the body boarder onboard the lifeboats and dropped them ashore to the beach where the casualties were passed into the care of Coastguard Rescue Teams.
‘Thankfully all casualties were unharmed thanks to the swift actions of those who went to their aid and supported them with their boards until the arrival of the lifeboats. Whilst our advice is normally not to enter the water and put yourself in danger, all those who assisted the swimmers before we arrived included an experienced surf instructor and off duty experienced beach lifeguards. Without their quick actions to help the group of swimmers, on this particular occasion, the outcome could have been very different.
‘As soon as all the swimmers were all safely ashore we spotted a paddle boarder some distance off Rest Bay being swept out by offshore winds. We picked them up and took them onboard the D Class too and dropped them back to the beach.’
Once the lifeboats were released from the incident the crews made their way back to the lifeboat station and the Atlantic 85 was recovered. The D Class lifeboat returned back slightly later and as it came around the end of the breakwater the crew found another incident unfolding . A large motor vessel had just run aground near the marina entrance.
With the tide rapidly receding the helm made an assessment of the situation and made a decision the best way to help the casualties onboard was to quickly get a tow line to the vessel and attempt to assist it back out into deeper water. The quick actions of the lifeboat crew helped to keep the vessel afloat and avoided it going fully aground.
The Atlantic 85 was relaunched with a salvage pump incase the casualty vessel had sustained damage. Once it was confirmed there was no water ingress and all aboard were safe and well the lifeboats were finally stood down from all the afternoon’s incidents around 3pm.
Porthcawl RNLI launch authority Steve Knipe said:
‘Please take extra care if visiting our coastline as daily RNLI lifeguard patrols have now ended at all local beaches except for Trecco Bay. Rest Bay will be patrolled for the next couple of weekends. Check weather conditions before you go and carry a means for calling for help.
If you find yourself caught in a rip:
- Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.
- If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
- If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
- Always raise your hand and shout for help.
If you get in difficulty in the water, float to increase your chances of survival. You can see the RNLI’s full safety advice here: rnli.org/safety/respect-the-water
In a coastal emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’