Donaghadee Volunteer RNLI Crew Rescue Kayaker In Distress on Father’s Day
The volunteer crew of Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat were tasked to launch yesterday, Sunday 19 June, at the request of HM Coastguard to a kayaker reported to be in need of assistance.
It had been reported to the Coastguard by a member of the public that the kayaker appeared to be struggling against the tide in strong off shore winds just off Cloughey Beach and was being swept out to sea.
The crew were paged at 2.17pm and with a compliment of 6 volunteer crew members under the command of Coxswain Philip McNamara, they launched Saxon into a moderate to rough sea, force 6 -7 with a northwest wind and excellent visibility.
While the crew were making full speed to the last reported position of the kayaker, Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team were on scene, managed to keep eyes on the kayaker in poor conditions, for the majority of the time and report back that he was approximately 2km just north of the North Rock.
It transpired that the casualty had initially been out in a blue kayak and had got into difficulties, but he managed to swim ashore and proceed to go out in a yellow kayak in order to recovery the blue one. With a strong offshore wind and unable to locate the blue kayak, he attempted to return to shore and began to struggle.
At 2.55pm approximately HM Coastguard also tasked a search and rescue helicopter which was en route from Prestwick, in the meantime the Coastguard Rescue Team were able to report that he was now approximately 1km north of the North Rock.
When the All Weather Lifeboat arrived on the scene, they quickly located the casualty sheltering on the North Rock itself. Due to shallow conditions and a sea state beyond the capability of the lifeboats daughter boat, Second Coxswain John Ashwood used a loudhailer to request the kayaker make his way off the rock and toward Saxon. He was able to do this and he was recovered onto the safety of the lifeboat. Subsequently, the search and rescue helicopter was stood down.
Once onboard, a casualty care assessment was carried out to ensure he was not suffering any ill effects from the situation and it was determined that he was well.
It was decided to return to Portavogie Harbour where the gentleman was reunited with his young son and handed over to the care of the Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team… a Father’s Day he will not forget for years to come!
Brian McLawrence, Volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Donaghadee Lifeboat Station said: “This was great teamwork today between the Coastguard Rescue Team and ourselves, and is a pleasure to work with them as always.
“As we have mentioned before, time is of the essence in these situations, as soon as you suspect that you are in trouble or a loved one is in trouble, waste no time, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
“The gentleman was certainly very lucky to get to the relative safety of the North Rock itself, otherwise we fear it may have had a very different outcome. We wish him all the best and hope he enjoyed the remainder of his Fathers Day.
“We do recommend if you are going to enjoy the water on a kayak, standup paddle board etc that you wear a lifejacket/buoyancy aid, and carry a means of communication such as a VHF radio or your mobile phone in a waterproof case – it could save your life.”