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RNLI issues safety warning after 16 people were rescued when their 19ft boat capsized

Sixteen people were pulled safely from the water when their boat capsized in South Pool Creek, Salcombe Estuary.

Salcombe’s inshore lifeboat (ILB) was tasked to rescue the crew of a 19ft recreational boat after it capsized at around 8.40pm on Saturday 22 July while visiting the area.

Three young children were among those who ended up in the water, with two of those under the age of one. Local boats that were nearby at the time of the incident picked up some of the casualties including the women and children returning them to the shore and the volunteer RNLI ILB crew picked up five men who were clinging to the side of the upturned hull.

Lifeboat Operations Manager Simon Evans said: ‘The boat overturned in chest deep water in a fairly narrow creek. Fortunately all 16 people were rescued safely from the water, however the outcome could have been very different had the boat been in deeper water. When the volunteer crew reached the men they had been in the water for quite some time, were cold and were not wearing lifejackets. There was twice the number of people on the boat than there should have been when it capsized and this could have easily ended in tragedy.’

In total, eight men, five women and three children were rescued by a number of different boats, including the RNLI’s ILB. Several of the cold and tired casualties were taken back to the lifeboat station where they were provided with blankets and towels. The lifeboat returned to the station at 9.30pm. Salcombe Harbour Master watch boat took the upturned hull in tow.

Area Lifesaving Manager Simon Crayfourd said: ‘The RNLI recommends that when you use your tender and your boat everyone wears a buoyancy aid or a lifejacket. Fatigue can kick in quickly and a lifejacket could save your life. It’s also important to carry a means of calling for help if you do end up in trouble.’

The RNLI released some shocking statistics, saying that around 190 people lose their lives at the UK and Irish coasts each year and around half the people who die at the coast never intend to get wet. Respect the Water is the RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign. This year the charity’s campaign focuses on simple skills such as floating to increase your chances of survival and to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard if you see someone else in trouble.

Area Lifesaving Manager Simon Crayfourd added: ‘If you find yourself in the water unexpectedly cold water shock can set in. The initial shock of being in cold water can cause you to gasp and panic. It is important not to try and swim straight away and instead float on your back while you catch your breath. Try to get hold of something that will help you float. Once you’re calm call for help and swim to safety if you are able to.’

As well as wearing an appropriate lifejacket or buoyancy aid and carrying a means of calling for help the RNLI also advised the following.

  • Ensure there is an emergency action plan in place and everybody has an appropriate onboard briefing
  • Always check the weather and tide times
  • Alcohol can seriously impair your judgement, reactions and ability to swim
  • Make sure someone ashore knows where you are going and who to call if you don’t return on time
  • Always drive your boat at a speed that is appropriate to the weather conditions and environment you are operating in
  • Undertake the appropriate level of training for your craft

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