NWSF News & Updates

Boating & Watersports Participation Surges to Highest Level Since 2007
Participation rates in core boating and watersports activities surged in 2013 according to research released by by BMF, MCA, RNLI, RYA, BCU and MMO.
A total of 3.5 million adults (7.1% of the population) took to the water across a number of activities including power boating, sailing, canal boating and rowing/skulling.
This reflects an increase of 23% in the number of participants from 2012 when 2.8 million adults, took part in at least one of the activities. Within this total, canoeing and kayaking in particular proved popular, recording an all-time high of 1.5 million adults (3% of the population). Read more: http://www.britishmarine.co.uk/news__press/press_article.aspx?ArticleId=4282
Water sport safety information from the NWSF: http://www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/professional/advice.asp

Neknominate ‘game’ leads to a false emergency call
After receiving reports from that a teenager was threatening to jump into the rough seas, Humber Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre sent the Redcar RNLI Lifeboat to Saltburn Pier. When the teams on scene couldn’t find the teenager further investigations revealed that he was at home. He had posted his intention to jump from the Pier on social media. Humber Coastguard Watch Manager Bev Allen said;
“If you have been drinking, your judgement will be impaired and you will be more likely to be overcome by the cold, dark sea. Your acceptance of the dare is highly likely to be life threatening. Alcohol is a contributory factor in a significant number of coastal drownings every year. Alcohol and sea water really don’t mix” http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/newsandpublications/press-releases.htm?id=96B5848B506AE7DC&m=2&y=2014

National Watersports Month
The British Marine Federation (BMF) and strategic partners the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), British Canoe Union (BCU) and British Rowing are working together on a new initiative, to encourage the nation to get on the water this coming May.
National Watersports Month will focus on promoting events across the country providing a variety of boating and watersports activities. Sailing, windsurfing, rowing, canoeing, kayaking, inland waterway cruising events and more will be taking place – to find out more and to get involved visit: http://www.watersportsmonth.co.uk
Water sport safety information from the NWSF: http://www.nationalwatersafety.org.uk/professional/advice.asp

MAIB Safety Bulletin 1/2014 – Eshcol
Carbon monoxide poisoning on board the scallop-dredger Eshcol in Whitby, North Yorkshire resulting in two fatalities. Read the report: http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/Safety%20Bulletin%201_2014.pdf

MAIB Safety Bulletin 2/2014 – ECC Topaz
MAIB Safety Bulletin on the fire and subsequent foundering of workboat ECC Topaz 11nm east of Lowestoft on 14 January 2014, was published on 26 February 2014. http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/Safety%20Bulletin%202_2014.pdf

Accident Investigation Report 6/2014: Sirena Seaways
MAIB Report on the investigation of Sirena Seaways’s heavy contact with the berth at Harwich International Port on 22 June 2013. Download report: http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/SirenaSeaways.pdf

Accident Investigation Report 7/2014 Prospect
MAIB Report on the investigation of the fv Prospect grounding on Skibby Baas and foundering in the North entrance to Lerwick Harbour, Shetlands Islands.Read more: http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/Prospect.pdf

Accident Investigation Report 8/2014 Danio
MAIB’s investigation into the grounding of the general cargo vessel Danio in the Farne Islands nature reserve, off the east coast of England. Read more: http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/Danio.pdf

The Met Office Watersports Survey

The Met office http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

The Met Office is the UK’s National Weather Service, and currently provides forecasts for around 450 beaches around the UK, with hourly updates.

The Met Office is recognised as one of the world’s most accurate forecasters, using more than 10 million weather observations a day to create 3,000 tailored forecasts and briefings a day. These are delivered to a huge range of customers from the Government, to businesses, the general public, armed forces, and other organisations. More information on the Met Office: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us 

This is a web based survey of the Great British public, and is aiming to ascertain the potential requirements for a new weather information service aimed at leisure/ marine/ sports participants.

The survey will test the types of weather and sea the conditions that are viewed as important or those can affect the participants of different activities, shaping how, when and the way that the Met Office provide information.

Working with partners such as the RNLI, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and Plymouth University the Met Office will use the information to develop new content that improves safety, for example forecasting whether there is an increased risk of a rip current at a site, under particular weather conditions.

To find out more, or to take part in the survey please go to: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/watersports-survey

Young men rescued from the incoming tide

Two young men were rescued tonight after they were cut off by the tide as they walked from Southport to Crosby. Liverpool Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre received a 999 call from a member of the public at 8.10pm reporting that the two men were on a thin sandbank at the mouth of the River Alt. The Crosby Coastguard Rescue Team, the RNLI hovercraft and Inshore Lifeboat from New Brighton and the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service went straight to the scene. The RNLI hovercraft rescued two men at just before 8.45pm. Liverpool Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Watch Manager Paul Parkes said:
“These two young men were very lucky as the water had come in up to their knees by the time they were rescued. Our advice is to always check the weather and tide times before you set out. Please don’t take risks and think about whether you could be cut-off before you reach your destination”.

Improving bathing waters on Wales’ beaches as weather changes

The changing weather forecast will provide a boost for visitors and beach-goers this Summer as water quality at some of Wales’ most popular beaches is likely to improve with more settled weather, according to Environment Agency Wales.
The record rainfall during June and early July not only caused flooding in parts of Wales, it also affected bathing water quality at some of the 100 designated bathing beaches sampled by the Agency.
At the midway point of the bathing water testing season (which runs from May to September) results had dipped reflecting the unsettled weather pattern of recent months. Agency sampling officers found that bacterial levels increased following the heavy rain partly as pollutants from fields and urban areas were washed into rivers. The heavy rainfall also caused storm sewage discharge systems to release diluted sewage into rivers in order to protect homes from flooding. Other sources of pollution that impact on water quality include badly maintained cesspits and septic tanks, and poor household plumbing. In some cases, foul water pipes are incorrectly connected to the surface water drainage systems which flow, untreated into rivers.

Improving water quality
However, as the rain eases and the sunnier weather continues bacterial levels will reduce due to less pollution and some will be killed off by Ultra Violet rays from the sun. Bathing water quality has improved dramatically in the last 20 years, much of it due to Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s £1bn of investment into waste water improvements. In addition to influencing this investment, the Agency has also been advising farmers about different practices in order to reduce diffuse pollution. However, more work needs to be done to meet tough new standards in the revised Bathing Water Directive coming into force in 2015 with some standards being twice as stringent as those in previous years.

Further investigation into sources of pollution
The Agency will continue to investigate the source of pollution affecting water quality in order to tackle those responsible.
It is working closely with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and other sectors to secure continued improvement in future water quality and Chris Mills, Director, Environment Agency Wales, said:

“I am sure many of us welcomed the recent sunshine and made the most of it at some of the fantastic beaches in Wales. And the good weather will also mean better water quality for bathing. The record rainfall which fell in June and July has affected water quality and some beaches will have struggled to meet the standards expected. We have seen a dramatic improvement in bathing water in the last 20 years but remain determined to push on from this and make sure bathing waters are clean and healthy, not only to meet EU rules, but for the people and economy of Wales.”

People can find out information on bathing waters either on the Environment Agency website or:
Bathing Water Data Explorer website
Beach Finder app available for download on most smart phones. Go to the RNLI pages for more information.

Strong winds prove too much for kite surfers

Today’s strong winds and rough seas have created conditions that have really proved too much for the ability of some kite surfers around the East Anglian coast. Yarmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre was alerted three times this afternoon, to assist kite surfers in difficulties around the Hunstanton area. The Hunstanton Coastguard Rescue Team and the Hunstanton RNLI Lifeboat were sent to each incident. The Ambulance Paramedic, the Air Ambulance, and a land Ambulance were sent to the third incident where a Kite surfer was taken to Hospital.
Mario Siano, Yarmouth Coastguard Watch Manager said:
“I know that kite surfers enjoy extreme conditions but with a severe weather warning was out and winds were gusting to more than 50 miles an hour. My best advice is make sure you get weather information before you take to the water and dont go out in conditions that are beyond your experience”.
Stay safe – before heading out on the water get trained, check weather and tides, wear a lifejacket, avoid alcohol and keep in touch. Read more on the MCA 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…

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 www.rnli.org.uk/beachsafety.

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..

RNLI issue safety advice ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend

As the region gears up for the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, the RNLI lifeguards and the volunteer lifeboat crews in the South West are urging people heading to the coast to heed the charity’s essential safety advice. Despite one of the wettest Aprils on record, the charity that saves lives at sea is expecting a busy Bank Holiday weekend as the RNLI lifeguards start their Summer safety patrols on 34 beaches across Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. Steve Instance, RNLI Divisional Lifeguard Inspector says;
“After a two week stint on some of the most popular beaches over the Easter period, the RNLI are now starting their full time patrols for the Summer season. We’re hopeful for some sunshine, but whatever the weather throws at us, we can expect the beaches to be busy as determined visitors and locals enjoy their holiday time. We’d urge beach goers to head to one of the 34 RNLI lifeguarded beaches and to swim and bodyboard in the supervised area marked out by the red and yellow flags. Try and stay within your depth and follow the lifeguard’s advice. If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help. If you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard, or if you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.”
In particular Steve advises people to check local tide times before setting off to avoid the risk of being cut off. He says;
“Tide times are available through the media, at the local lifeboat stations, harbour offices and at the entrance to all RNLI lifeguarded beaches or by searching your nearest beach online. Always take a means of calling for help in case you should get caught out”. Read more on the RNLI website… 

Flood update

The Environment Agency is continuing to keep a close watch on river levels as well as checking defences and clearing any potential blockages to reduce the risk of flooding. Whilst the Met Office has been forecasting some heavy rain throughout the morning – which could lead to localised flooding – there are no significant concerns.
Environment Agency flood defence schemes across the country have protected thousands of properties. An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We are urging people to stay safe and be prepared. People can sign up for the Environment Agency’s free flood warnings service and keep up to date by checking our website, looking out for updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or calling us on 0845 988 1188.”
The Environment Agency is warning of the dangers of flood water. People should keep away from swollen rivers, and not attempt to walk or drive through them. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

HM Coastguard remind divers to stop! Beware of decompression sickness

After two divers suffered decompression sickness this afternoon following rapid ascents, HM Coastguard would like to remind all divers of the importance of regular stops as they come to the surface.

Although separate incidents, both divers were treated and had to be rushed to hyperbaric chambers. H.M Coastguard advises that dives requiring decompression stops should be planned beforehand and taken. Any diver who has missed planned decompression stops could suffer from decompression illness.

Divers are also advised to make sure they are adequately qualified and experienced for the diving they plan to undertake, with a close eye on weather and sea conditions. Their personal fitness is a top priority for safe diving and they should be familiar with new or different gear before planning deep dives. If you are operating a dive boat check do a radio check with the Coastguard before heading out tell the Coastguard your planned destination and expected return time. If one of your divers has a problem contact the Coastguard straightaway. Read more on the MCA website…