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Three men on a kayak trigger multi-agency rescue operation involving Dart RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Three local Dartmouth men were saved yesterday (Thursday 27 June) after getting into trouble on a kayak off Blackpool Sands in rough conditions.

RNLI Dart crewman Mark Conroy assesses two of the kayakers on the beach.

RNLI/Riki Bannister

RNLI Dart crewman Mark Conroy assesses two of the kayakers on the beach.

The men, aged 23, 25 and 27, had set off from Blackpool Sands at around 5.15pm on Thursday and quickly began to struggle in the strong onshore northeastly wind.

They were swept along to the next cove, below Matts Point, where the waves were breaking 16 feet high on the rocks at the entrance to the cove. A visiting holidaymaker realised the danger that they were in and raced to alert the staff in the Venus Café who immediately called the Coastguard. She also saw another man wearing fins and goggles about to swim after them to see if he could help but fortunately he turned back.

RNLI Dart immediately launched their trial B class Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat and the D class lifeboat, and the volunteers reached the scene 10 minutes later.

The Coastguard helicopter heading for Derriford hospital in Plymouth with a casualty on board, was diverted to help pin point the position of the group who were now hidden from the beach. The Dartmouth Coastguard SAR team were also sent to Blackpool Sands and Matts Point.

At this point the three casualties abandoned the kayak and were swept into the cove by the dumping waves. They made their own way to steps rising to the properties above. As they reached the steps they saw the lifeboats in the surf at the entrance of the cove behind them. They were met at the top of the steps by the Coastguard team who had also just arrived.

The three were taken back to Blackpool Sands and Mark Conroy, one of the First Aid trained lifeboat crew on the Atlantic, swam ashore to provide a First Aid assessment. Following this the Coastguard team arranged for one of the casualties to be taken to Torbay Hospital by ambulance for further examination.

A spokesperson from Dart RNLI said: ‘These three casualites were extremely lucky to have been spotted by a member of the public who was able to raise the alarm on their behalf. The conditions along the south coast have been particularly challenging over the last 48 hours with the strong easerly winds, creating unusual weather conditions in areas that are usually calm.

‘We strongly advise kayakers to check the weather and tides before setting off, wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, and always carry a means of calling for help. If you see anyone in difficulty call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’


RNLI lifeguards will be on duty on Blackpool Sands from Saturday 6 July from 10am to 6pm.

Notes to editors

Attached are some images from yesterday’s launch.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone John Fenton, volunteer RNLI lifeboat press officer at Dart, on 07970 921504 or jsfdartrnli@btinternet.com or Emma Haines, RNLI Regional Media Officer, on 07786 668847 or emma_haines@rnli.org.uk

Waves were breaking half way up the cliff where the kayakers swam ashore.

RNLI/Riki Bannister

Waves were breaking half way up the cliff where the kayakers swam ashore.
RNLI Dart Atlantic 75 on her way to the rescue beach.

RNLI/Riki Bannister

RNLI Dart Atlantic 75 on her way to the rescue beach.

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

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