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Swimmers risking their lives on inflatables at Lyme Regis
BEACH goers are risking their lives by using inflatable boats that are sometimes ‘little more than toys’ in the sea off Lyme Regis .
The RNLI and coastguards have moved to highlight the dangers of being swept out to sea on a plastic blow-up boats or inflatables.
Lyme Regis-based volunteer sea safety officer Richard Finch said: “It’s really all about common sense. Many inflatables are not much more than toys and should be treated as such.”
The warning comes after a spate of call-outs to Lyme Regis rescue services after people found themselves in trouble when using the small boats.
Last Saturday evening the lifeboat put to sea in appalling weather conditions to search for two people in an inflatable, believed lost off West Bay in the treacherous thick sea-fog.
The three-metre semi-inflatable carried no radio, GPS or lifejackets.
West Bay Coastguard Station Officer Mark Collins said they had no choice but to call out the lifeboat from Lyme Regis after friends concerned that the weather had closed in reported that they could not contact the people in the craft by mobile phone.
“We could not see more than about 200 yards.
“They could easily have become disoriented and headed out to sea.
“As it turned they found the shore and ended up back at West Bay. We gave them strong words of advice and to give them their due, they were very apologetic.”
Other incidents include two teenage boys who were lucky to be alive after their rubber dinghy burst and they spent two hours in the water before being rescued by Lyme Regis lifeboat crew.
Lifeboat crew member Grace Wadsworth, 20, spotted them a mile off the coast with binoculars after the pair were reported missing from Axmouth.
Helmsman Brian Street said: “The boys were in a bad way, clearly suffering from the effects of the cold. If we had not found them when we did the outcome could have been very different.
“They were clinging to the wreckage of their burst boat inflatable.”
A father and his son were rescued by the Lyme lifeboat after their inflatable dinghy overturned several hundred yards off Charmouth beach.
The dinghy had apparently capsized while turning back to shore in moderate waves. They were cold and had swallowed water when the lifeboat crew took them on board and returned to Lyme Regis Harbour, where the casualties were met by paramedics and coastguards.
The lifeboat was launched and RNLI lifeguards had to go to the aid of a child in an inflatable drifting off the beach at Lyme. The lifeguards towed the boat back to shore.
Mr Finch added: “It’s also knowing about tides and when conditions are not suitable for inflatables.
“With the very young it makes sense for parents to use a lanyard to hang on to the dinghy from the beach.
“There are a number of golden rules, and in Lyme Regis it is sensible to stay within the swim line buoys and to wear a buoyancy aid.
“Blow-up toys and airbeds are designed for pools, not the sea where they can easily be swept out.
Portland Coastguard watch manager Andy Jenkins has added his voice to the warnings.
He said: “People don’t realise how quickly how quickly these crafts are carried out to the water.
“We realise they are fun to use but they can be dangerous and using them can turn to disaster quite quickly.”