A MAJOR rescue operation was launched after a fossil hunter found himself cut off by the tide while combing a stretch of beach at Barton.
The alarm was raised when a vigilant passer-by noticed the man was in difficulty on the shoreline of Chewton Bunny, below the Hoburne Naish holiday park, shortly after 1.30pm last Wednesday.
Lymington Coastguard’s water rescue team responded, along with counterparts from Southbourne and an RNLI Mudeford lifeboat crew.
The Mudeford Servant Atlantic 85 rescue vessel launched amid reports a cliff fall to the east, which had happened previously, was impeding access to the casualty from that direction.
A south-westerly force 6-7 wind was reported to be blowing with 1.5m sea swell as the volunteer-crewed vessel made its approach.
On arrival, it was deemed the man looked safe and the crew stood off to get a better view from the sea and provide the best point of entry for the Coastguard team to rescue him.
As the tide continued to rise, one of the RNLI personnel was put ashore with the casualty, a 53-year-old man from Southampton.
The crew member provided the man with a survivor lifejacket and stayed with him until the Coastguard water rescue team arrived from the west.
He was then walked by this team across the beach, through water, to safe dry land.
A spokesperson for Lymington Coastguard told the A&T: “The casualty was assessed by coastguard officers and found to be in good health. No further medical assistance was required.”
The spokesperson commended him for being “well-equipped” and also praised the passer-by for doing the right thing by dialling 999 and asking for the Coastguard.
“This was very fortunate for the man as if he had been stuck for much longer the outcome could have been different,” he added.