Stay safe by the water this summer

Now that the summer is officially here and the days are getting warmer the British Waterways is urging visitors to the 2,000 miles of canal to enjoy the waters safely. 12 million people visit the waterways each year and the canals and rivers are more popular than ever. Although they may look tempting to cool off in on a hot summer’s day, British Waterways is urging people to stay safe and keep out of the water.

Canals are a real haven for people and nature and have something to offer everyone, from walkers and cyclists to boaters and anglers, families on days out and those wanting to enjoy the sunshine. Although the water may look inviting, any open body of water can pose a hazard, particularly to unsupervised children or anyone under the influence of alcohol.
People should resist the temptation to take a dip. The water is frequently colder than expected and can bring on cramps and sap energy of even the strongest swimmers. Dangers from strong current and faster flowing water around locks and weirs could also drag swimmers into danger. Contact with canal or river water can also bring about nasty stomach illnesses or Weil’s disease which although rare can be serious.

Tony Stammers, British Waterways’ Head of Health and Safety, said: “The canals are a great place to visit on a warm summer’s day as not only will visitors see lots of boats on the water but you will also see a wide variety of wildlife fluttering along the towpath. Canals, rivers and reservoirs are not suitable places for swimming as they may have hidden dangers lurking beneath the water that could cause serious injury if someone was to jump in. They can also be deep and the water quite cold which can quickly cause someone to get into trouble. It is far safer and much more fun to visit your local swimming pool or lido to cool off in the summer heat.” Read more on the British Waterways website…


Anglers rescued from fog

Two anglers were rescued this afternoon from thick fog after their vessel broke down. The Elvie called Whitby Harbour office at just after 10.30 this morning to say that the vessel had broken down with two people on board. They gave their position as 8km east of Whitby. The harbour office called Humber Coastguard. Whitby RNLI Lifeboat was asked to go to the vessels assistance and the Whitby Coastguard Rescue Team went to harbour to glean as much information about the vessel as they could. Humber Coastguard attempted to contact the Elvie to confirm their location but couldn’t contact them. It later transpired that this was because the vessels battery was flat and so their VHF radio wouldn’t work. Luckily they hadn’t drifted in the fog and the Whitby RNLI Lifeboat quickly found the Elvie. The lifeboat then brought the vessel back to Whitby Harbour where they were met by the Whitby Coastguard Rescue Team.

Graham Dawson, Humber Coastguard Watch Manager said: “If you are thinking about heading out in a small boat in thick fog please remember it’s not just about what you can see but whether other vessels can see you. Without radar reflectors small boats may be invisible to large ships. Simple checks, like battery charge can make a difference between an enjoyable days fishing and a frustrating day waiting to be rescued. Before you set out prepare well so that you can have a safe and enjoyable time. If you do get into difficulty your first call should be to the Coastguard. Use your VHF radio on channel 16 or call 999 on your mobile and ask for the Coastguard”. Read more on the MCA website…

Chiefton: MAIB Accident Investigation Report

MAIB Report on the investigation of the collision, capsize and foundering of the tug Chiefton with the loss of one crew member, at Greenwich Reach, River Thames on 12 August 2011. Report No 12/2012. Download the report from the MAIB website…A Safety Flyer was also produced for this incident and can also be viewed on the MAIB website:Safety Flyer

Whitsand Bay RNLI lifeguards rescue four teenage girls from rip current

RNLI lifeguards patrolling off Whitsand Bay in South-East Cornwall have rescued four girls from a rip current. The teenagers were swimming off Tregonhawke Beach when the incident happened at 1pm. Fortunately two RNLI lifeguards on patrol in their inshore rescue boat were passing by as the rip developed.

RNLI lifeguards Naomi Bishop and Charlie Gillett were carrying out a midday patrol along Whitsand Bay when they noticed the four teenagers caught in the rip current. They were able to pluck them to safety really quickly, which as Naomi explains, was good news; “It’s a great day to have been on the beach today, really sunny and sheltered. But the rip current developed very quickly and caught the girls out and they were quite shaken when we got them into the rescue boat. I’m just glad we were on patrol and in the immediate area when things started going wrong for them. It can be very frightening to be caught in a rip, so don’t panic, remain calm and let the rip take you. Don’t try to swim against it, go with it and keep hold of your board if you have one with you. Stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you can, swim sideways until you are out of the rip current and then try to return to the shore.”

Conditions on the beaches in Whitsand Bay today were ideal, with lots of sun and shelter. But there was also a one and a half foot surf, choppy seas and it was very windy. Read more on the RNLI website…

RNLI Lifeguards return to Pembrokeshire beaches

As Pembrokeshire prepares to welcome the Olympic Torch to the county this weekend, RNLI lifeguards are making final checks and preparations as they return to Tenby South and Whitesands beaches this Saturday (26 May). The charity’s lifeguards will be at their posts from 10am-6pm ready to offer safety advice and assistance on the county’s busiest beaches for the summer season.

Last year RNLI lifeguards at Whitesands in St Davids responded to 140 incidents over the summer, while their colleagues responded to 85 incidents on Tenby South beach. The charity’s lifeguards will be at their posts to offer advice and assistance everyday between 10am-6pm from Saturday (26 May) until Sunday 2 September.

Stuart Thompson, RNLI Lifeguard Manager said: “RNLI lifeguards have been busy completing vital training and passing fitness tests over the past few weeks as they prepare to return to Pembrokeshire beaches this weekend. Whitesands and Tenby South beach are two of our busiest beaches within the country, and I know the lifeguards are looking forward to returning to their post to offer safety advice and assistance to members of the public once again this summer.”

Before visiting the beach this summer, the RNLI advises the public to bear in mind some vital safety tips to help ensure that no mishaps are likely to ruin their day: 

  1. Always swim between the red and yellow flags at a lifeguarded beach.
  2. ever use inflatables in strong winds or rough seas.
  3. Check times of high and low tide before you visit the beach. Alternatively ask a lifeguard.
  4. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help.
  5. If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

For more information on beach safety please visit

RNLI lifeguards will return to a further 10 of Pembrokeshire’s beaches from 23 June for the summer holidays.Read more on the RNLI website..

Kayaker saved by Eastbourne lifeboat

Eastbourne RNLI’s inshore lifeboat (ILB) went to the rescue of a kayaker this morning (22 May) who had fallen out of his craft in Norman’s Bay and had spent an hour in the water trying to attract attention to his plight.

The man was enjoying the Eastbourne sunshine and angling a few hundred metres offshore in his kayak when he fell out of his craft whilst stowing his fishing gear. Fortunately he was well equipped with a wet suit and buoyancy aid but had no means of summoning help and was forced to wave at anglers on the beach to attract attention. After some time he was noticed by concerned onlookers who contacted Dover Coastguard. The volunteer crew from Eastbourne ILB assembled and were afloat within five minutes of the request to launch and with helmsman Paul Rogers in command were on scene within 12 minutes. The kayaker was cold and shaken but otherwise unharmed and was returned to shore with his craft and passed into the care of a waiting Coastguard officer. Read more on the RNLI website…

Two men rescued after capsizing dinghy

At 11.30 am today, Clyde Coastguard observed a small dinghy, from their operations room, that had been launched from Cardwell Bay slipway, with two men aboard. Whilst the dinghy was being watched by the Coastguard, one of the men stood up and fell into the water, capsizing the dinghy, and throwing the other man into the water. Clyde Coastguard called out the Greenock Coastguard Rescue Team and requested the launch of the Helensburgh RNLI inshore lifeboat.

The Clyde Harbour Pilot Boat, which was already on the water, responded to the Coastguards request for help, and recovered the two men (only one of whom was wearing a lifejacket) from the water. The men were brought to shore to be met by waiting coastguards and an ambulance. They were taken to hospital suffering from the effects of the cold water.

Calum Murray, Watch Manager, Clyde Coastguard said: “Small boats are unstable platforms so be careful when moving around and try to distribute your weight as evenly as possible. We recommend that recreational sailors and motorboaters wear lifejackets at all times whilst on deck. These should be well maintained and have a sprayhood, light and whistle if possible. A crotch strap is an important part of the lifejacket as it stops it from riding up whilst in the water, so make sure that you wear it. Check your lifejacket over regularly, paying particular attention to the gas canister – make sure that it is properly connected and is not rusty. Make sure that you have a suitable method of communication with you. A VHF DSC radio is ideal with a charged mobile phone in a plastic bag and marine flares as back-up. Remember though, that a mobile phone cannot be relied upon since signal quality is often intermittent at best when at sea”. Read more on the MCA website…

Children learn life saving skills

Children from around the country are being given the chance to learn about the dangers posed by open water this summer thanks to vital life-saving scheme Get Safe 4 Summer. The youngsters are being taught water safety skills at a number of pools from next week as part of Get Safe 4 Summer, an educational and water safety campaign run by the ASA with events supported by Swimathon Foundation.

The ASA’s Get Safe 4 Summer campaign is all about raising awareness that swimming in open water such as lakes, rivers, canals and the sea is very different from the pool.

The events teach children about the dangers of open water, as well as highlighting that swimming is the only sport that can save your life. ASA Chief Executive David Sparkes said: “The ability to recognise dangers and knowledge of water safety is just as important as being able to swim.  Particularly important during the summer holidays, the ASA’s Get Safe 4 Summer campaign is all about raising awareness that swimming in open water such as lakes, rivers, canals and the sea is very different from the pool.  We want everyone to be able to enjoy the water but in a safe and sensible way.”

Swimathon Foundation Chairman Anthony Kendall said: ” We are very pleased to support the ASA and The Swimming Trust in teaching youngsters about the importance of swimming and water safety.  It is exactly what we, as a Foundation, stand for.”
The events will consist of an action-packed few hours in the water with a host of fun and educational activities. They include attendance from the RLSS who are also running a Water Safety Awareness Week 16th-24th June.

Schools, leisure facilities and swim schools can get involved by holding their own Get Safe 4 Summer event.  Supporting resources are available to download online, including a Pool Event Pack with details of what, when and who should be involved, posters and certificates to reward the young people attending. Read more on the ASA website…

Coastguards wade in to rescue surfer

A teenage surfer was rescued from the water at Saltburn-by-the-Sea this afternoon after Skinningrove Coastguard Rescue Team donned water rescue equipment and recovered her to the shore. The coastguard rescue team were in the area after responding to another incident on the cliffs nearby when they were made aware of a female that had got into difficulty and was unable to make it back to the beach at Saltburn-by-the-Sea. At the same time, several 999 calls were made to the operations room at Humber Coastguard to report the incident, including from the concerned father of the 17-year-old girl. Humber Coastguard requested the launch of the Redcar RNLI lifeboat to assist. Meanwhile, Skinningrove Coastguard donned water rescue equipment and waded into the breakers with a spare lifejacket to recover the surfer. The teenage surfer was brought ashore exhausted and reunited with her family. Read more on the MCA website…

Management of fishing quotas to be devolved

All four nations within the UK will be given greater power to manage their own fishing quotas following an agreement that has just been reached, Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon announced today. Under the agreement, the UK, Scottish and Welsh Government, and the Northern Ireland Executive will each be allocated shares, agreed annually, of UK fish quotas for distribution to their fleets. These will be based on the number of boats in each area and the quota they already receive. However, there will be no permanent split of UK quota; fishing vessels will be free to move their operations to other parts of the UK. The new arrangements will replace the present system where the UK Government allocates quota directly to fishermen and to fish producer organisations that manage quotas. This will allow each country to adapt quota allocations to best suit fleets in different parts of the UK. Arrangements for the licensing and administration of fishing vessels will also be clearer as a result of the agreement, and arrangements for the management of the UK’s fishing effort (“days at sea”) under the EU’s Cod Recovery Plan will be formalised.

Richard Benyon, UK Fisheries Minister, said: “By giving each nation greater control of quotas we will all be able to be more flexible on how quota is allocated to individual boats. This will enable the UK to move quota around to where it is needed and as a result we hope to see a reduction in discards. “This agreement will also make it easier to manage fisheries across the UK and is a significant step forward for the fishing industry”. Read more on the DeFRA website…