Friday, 28 August 2009

RNLI sea rescue at Budleigh Salterton

[Budleigh beach is generally reckoned to be a fairly safe place for swimming, and the River Otter estuary (pictured left) can look like a beautifully tranquil playground for kids. But even in mid-summer the currents and tides can suddenly transform it, as this story a few days ago of the dramatic rescue of a father and daughter shows. Even a fit adult – the father is a member of the Army Air Corps – can get into difficulties.]

Exmouth RNLI volunteer crew were tasked by Portland Coastguards on Tuesday 25 August 2009, to rescue an eight-year-old girl and her father after they got into difficulties in the sea off Otterton Ledge, Budleigh Salterton.

The young girl, Kerys Nash, had been boogie boarding in the River Otter when she was swept out to sea. Her father rushed into the sea to help, but with the strong outgoing tide they were both swept further out to sea. The alarm was raised by his sister-in-law who had been watching from the beach.

Dad, Adam Nash, 29, from Exeter explained: “When I saw Kerys was in trouble, I just stripped off to my jeans and went in to get her, thinking it would be about five yards in and I would be able to drag her out. But it was choppy water and it was quite hard to see where she was. I realised I was going to have to swim to reach her.”

By the time Adam was able to reach his daughter, the current had taken her about 100 yards out to sea. He said: “I could feel how strong the current was and it was too difficult to get her and me back to shore, as much as we tried. We lay on the board and paddled, hoping we could make it back to shore further down the beach but the current didn’t take us that way.”

Adam found a rock beginning to stick out of the sea as the tide went out and they used that to cling onto until help arrived. The RNLI Exmouth inshore lifeboat was tasked at 12.26 pm and the volunteer crew reached the youngster and her father within ten minutes.

Seeing the RNLI inshore lifeboat crew coming in the distance, Adam used the white underside of the boogie board as a reflector so they could be found. The RNLI volunteer crew took them on board the lifeboat, but the conditions were very bumpy and they were unable to land them ashore due to the dumping surf at Budleigh. The RNLI all weather Mersey class lifeboat, Margaret Jean, was launched to transport the cold and shaken casualties back to Exmouth in the warmth of the wheelhouse of the lifeboat.

Happy to be back safe on dry land, Adam said: “I was relieved my sister-in-law is level-headed enough to have contacted the Coastguards when she did. The response time was quick and it’s great to see that the system works so well. We thank everyone involved.”

Exmouth RNLI has been tasked four other times since August 19 2009. The Exmouth station has been operating since 1858. Its recently completed new site is pictured left. To learn more about the lifeboat stations past and present go to http://www.exmouth-lifeboat.org.uk/

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. It operates over 230 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 140 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. 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 137,000 lives. For more information on the RNLI please visit http://www.rnli.org.uk/

Text credit: Jo Damsell, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer
Pictured above: A relieved Adam and Kerys Nash safe on board the Exmouth lifeboat.
Photo credit: D. Perkin

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