Port Isaac RNLI called to service on day restrictions on exercise are lifted

Port Isaac RNLI were tasked to reports of two men in a small inflatable boat who appeared to be having difficulty in returning to shore, yesterday afternoon (13 May, around 4pm).

This came on the day that government restrictions on exercise, due to COVID-19, had been relaxed to include being able to drive to a destination for exercise and to resume water-based activities.

A member of the public spotted the duo in the 2.8 metre Avon RIB off the coast of Port Gaverne and became increasingly concerned for their safety. One eyewitness stated that she was worried about them going out in such a small boat, but it was after about half an hour that she became more worried. She said “it looked as though they were trying to get back into shore but couldn’t. The sea was terrible.” A 999 call was made to the coastguard and the RNLI lifeboat, D-843 Pride of Port Isaac (Goeth Porthusek), was launched.

Three volunteer crew responded in a choppy, two-metre swell and a NNE wind of 15mph. The boat was on scene within minutes where, thankfully, the two men had managed to recover their boat.

“Unfortunately, the men were completely unprepared for their trip,” says Matthew Main, Volunteer Helm for Port Isaac RNLI Lifeboat. “They were not wearing life jackets or clothing appropriate to the conditions. They had no basic safety equipment and the engine was brand new, so they had no experience of using it before. There were also signs clearly displayed stating the beach was still closed to boats launching. They realised straight away that they had made a mistake in going out and were polite, apologetic and embarrassed. We gave them some safety advice and they returned home. The men were from Cornwall but not the local area and had travelled to the area by car.”

The shout comes just two days after the RNLI issued a statement urging members of the public to take extra care following changes to Government guidance. The guidance states: “Although our volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational, should they be needed, it is important that anyone visiting the coast understands the risk and takes the necessary steps to keep themselves safe. This will also help to reduce the demands placed on our lifeboat crews and other emergency services including HM Coastguard. In this way, we can all work together to succeed in ensuring the coast is a safe place to visit.”

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.