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Minehead RNLI urge kayakers to be fully equipped after evening rescue

Lifeboats News Release

Minehead RNLI is urging kayakers to be fully prepared when putting to sea.

It follows an incident on Wednesday evening (27 June) when both the station’s lifeboats were launched to search for a kayaker who was reported overdue by friends. The 40-year-old man had put out from Dunster Beach about 7pm but an hour and a half later had failed to return.

He was quickly located more than a mile off Warren Point by the crew of Minehead’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat but declined offers of help. He was escorted back to Dunster beach by the crew of the station’s D class boat.

Crew member Andrew Escott said: “He had actually paddled out around one of the ships which was anchored in the channel and we fixed that as being nearly three miles offshore.

“The problem was that, by the time he started to head back the tide had turned and he was paddling against it. The man wasn't wearing a lifejacket and had no mobile phone or means of communication with him so we had no choice but to escort him back to Dunster. He had to paddle non-stop for an hour to get there because he was going against a two-and-a-half knot current.”

The man made it to the beach and was given safety advice by coastguards, with the lifeboat returning to station just before 10 pm.

Minehead lifeboat spokesman Chris Rundle urged people to be prepared for all conditions at sea:

'Even in fine, calm weather there are strong currents running at all times on the Bristol Channel which is why we advise anyone going kayaking to check the tide tables first to make sure they can get back safely.

'Kayakers are urged to always go to sea with a lifejacket and some means of communication – either a mobile phone or some distress flares - because one slight mishap is all it takes to put them into a life-threatening predicament.

'The man was extremely fortunate to have friends who were concerned about him and dialled 999.'

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 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