Collectively, crew from the seven lifeboat stations in the Solent area – Bembridge, Cowes, Yarmouth, Portsmouth, Calshot, Lymington and Hayling Island – launched on 388 rescue missions last year, to attend a wide range of incidents including commercial vessels in trouble, distressed fishermen, swimmers and leisure marine users.
Last year the seven crews rescued a total of 580 people. Of these, they gave first aid to a total of 33 people and 18 of those rescued were classed as “lives saved” – a specific RNLI criteria where a person would have most likely died if not for the RNLI rescuing them.
• Bembridge RNLI launched a total of 33 times in 2014, rescued 53 people and saved 2 lives. 13 launches were in the dark
• Cowes RNLI, the busiest station on the Island, launched 51 times, rescued 76 people and saved 2 lives. 19 launches were in the dark
• Yarmouth RNLI launched 41 times and rescued a staggering 108 people. 12 launches were in the dark
The total number of people rescued off the Island’s coast increased by 98, compared to 2013. Bembridge RNLI rescued 15 more people, Cowes RNLI rescued 29 more and Yarmouth rescued 54 more people. There were 13 more launches.
The busiest lifeboat station in the county was Portsmouth, who launched 90 times and rescued 80 people in total.
The figures show that more than a third (133) of the lifeboat launches were after nightfall – when volunteer crews launch into the unknown to assist those in distress as many people are safely at home, in the pub or driving their cars.
Richard Weeks, Divisional Operations Manager for the RNLI, said:
“Yet again our volunteers have had a very busy 12 months. 2014 was the warmest year on record for the UK, but conversely the winter storms of January and February brought damaging winds and inland and coastal flooding. The former may well have enticed more people on to our beaches and into the water, while the latter no doubt made conditions worse for anyone on or near the sea”.
Richard praised the hundreds of people who carry their pager, downing tools and dropping everything to respond to the call for help day or night, come rain or shine. He said:
“Our volunteer crews are the lifeblood of the RNLI, given the commitment they make. Our message is that we will always launch to assist people in distress, but we are also increasingly encouraging people to be mindful of the potential dangers associated with the sea”.
– Cowes RNLI assisted a man who had been injured onboard a yacht in near-gale force winds in the Solent. Sadly the man was fatally injured. Read the full story, as reported by Island Echo, here
– The crews of Bembridge and Yarmouth battled high winds and large seas in complete darkness in October to help search for a lone sailor in the English Channel. Read the full story, as reported by Island Echo, here.
Richard Weeks continued:
“With our lifeboats, lifeguards and safety messaging, the RNLI provides a ring of safety from the beach right out to the open seas. However, the training and equipment needed to do this costs money, so we are hugely grateful to everyone who supports in whatever way they can”.