THE rescue of a grounded kayak – complicated by the discovery of suspected unexploded bomb – was one of four call-outs that made for Calshot RNLI’s busiest day of the year.
Last Tuesday’s slew of incidents began around 11.20am when HM Solent Coastguard requested the lifeboat amid concerns for a person on board a vessel on the Beaulieu River.
On arrival the person declined assistance and continued towards Lymington. However, the rescue crew abided by Solent Coastguard’s request that it escort the vessel.
While the crew was busy with this incident, the team at the station was alerted around midday to reports the receding tide had stranded a family’s inflatable kayak on mudflats in the Calshot Creek area.
Another lifeboat was launched, with its crew unable to get close enough to recover those caught out in the rapidly receding tide.
As the temperature rose above 26C, and the family’s safety a concern, the crew remained with them while awaiting specialist mud rescue coastguard teams.
Shortly after arriving, the Lymington and Hill Head teams spotted three suspected pieces of ordnance above the high tide level nearby.
The area was cordoned off and a Portsmouth-based Royal Navy bomb disposal team was sent to the scene. However, on arrival, the experts confirmed one of the items was the inert remains of an auxiliary shell, while the other two were not pieces of ordnance.
The mud rescue specialists were able to free the kayak, and a spokesperson for HM Coastguard Lymington said its occupants, a woman and two children, were safe and well.
A call to help search for a missing paddle boarder off the Needles came in around 3.20pm as the lifeboat was returning from the second incident.
The crew helped scour the area from the Needles to Shingles Bank, but were stood down soon afterwards as the paddle boarder had been found safe.
Finally, around 3.45pm, a lifeboat was launched in response to reports of a swimmer in difficulty following a 999 call from a member of the public.
It found two people on inflatables drifting into the shipping channel. They were quickly secured and taken back to Calshot lifeboat station.
Calshot deputy launching authority Mark Weatherhead said later that day: “Today was a challenging day.
“Not only did it require a significant level of coordination with multiple agencies as we handled separate incidents in parallel, but each of the four shouts was very different in its nature, and our volunteer boat crews had to demonstrate a broad range of skills in order to bring each of the incidents to a successful conclusion.”
HM Coastguard has been urging people not to swim in the sea if there are no lifeguards on duty amid updated guidance from the government during the coronavirus pandemic.
The warning was sparked by a number of serious incidents along the south and west coast including some in which people died.
HM Coastguard director Claire Hughes said: “Help us to help you by following government guidance and respecting the sea.
“It doesn’t matter how local or experienced you are, we know just from these last few days that, sadly, the sea can catch anybody out and be unmerciful when it does.”
The current government guidance for England states people can visit the beach alone, with members of their household, or with no more than five other people from outside their household while staying two metres apart.
Full guidance can be found online at https://bit.ly/2MIL0Fm