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RNLI launch five lifeboats in search for a capsized kayaker

Lifeboats News Release

At 9:25am on Saturday 16 September the volunteers from St Bees RNLI were tasked to rescue a kayaker who had got into difficulties attempting a crossing to the Isle of Man.

St Bees Lifeboat launching to the capsized kayak, reported 5 miles west of ST Bees

RNLI/Colin Wadey

St Bees Lifeboat launching to the capsized kayak

Their colleagues from Workington, Barrow, Douglas and Ramsey RNLI, as well as the Coastguards Search and Rescue helicopter, and Maryport's Inshore Rescue boat soon joined them.

The volunteer RNLI crews from Cumbria and the Isle of Man were paged around 9:30am on Saturday to go to the assistance of the lone kayaker who had capsized in choppy seas five miles west of St Bees Head.

St Bees and Workington RNLI were the first lifeboats to arrive in the area where the casualty estimated his position to be, they started a search pattern co-ordinated by Belfast Coastguard. Unfortunately the kayak did not carry a VHF radio or any distress flares making it very difficult to locate him. Volunteers from Barrow, Douglas and Ramsey RNLI were also requested to launch, and were joined in the search by the Coastguards Search and Rescue helicopter as well as Maryport’s Inshore Rescue boat. Whitehaven HM Coastguard took up vantage points along St Bees Head also trying to locate the capsized boat.

Following an extensive search of a wide area lasting nearly two hours, the helicopter located the kayaker and his boat, and proceeded to winch him aboard. The fortunate kayaker was none the worse for his experience and did not require any medical attention. He was taken by helicopter to Workington RNLI’s lifeboat station and given a shower and hot drink. Workington’s new Shannon lifeboat picked up his kayak and reunited it with its owner back at their station.

Dick Beddows, St Bees RNLI Operation Manager said: ‘It was great to see five lifeboats, the Coastguard and an independent lifeboat all working together to achieve a great outcome; it could have ended very differently. It was good to see that the kayaker was wearing all the correct safely equipment which undoubtedly helped save his life, but a VHF radio and a small pack of distress flares would have made locating him a lot quicker’.

The kayaker prior to setting off from St Bees beach around 7:00am

RNLI/Colin Wadey

The kayaker prior to setting off

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland