Beachgoers warned as about 40 people rescued over the weekend
PUBLISHED: 16:46 02 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:15 03 August 2020
Sea Palling Lifeboat
A busy weekend for coastguard and lifeboat teams which saw about 40 people rescued from danger on the coast has been put down to increased visitor numbers and beachgoers “enjoying a degree of freedom after the lockdown”, a lifeboat operations manager said.
People have been warned again about the danger of high tides as groups of people were cut off by returning water at places including Wells, Winterton and Brancaster.
There was also an incident of a man falling down a cliff and another woman suffering a fall.
Chris Hardy, lifeboat operations manager at Wells, said the north Norfolk coast has been seeing more visitors than normal, with people not travelling abroad, and numbers on a normal weekend now comparable to bank holidays.
“People who would be holidaying in the Mediterranean are staying at home,” Mr Hardy said.
He speculated that one of the reasons there were so many call-outs over the weekend was down to “people having a degree of freedom post-lockdown”.
On Friday, the hottest day of the year so far, members of Bacton Coastguard were called out three times, first to six people cut off by the tide at Winterton before two incidents at Mundesley, when a 13-year-old boy got caught up in a rip current and later that evening a father and his two daughters were pulled from the sea.
At Wells, 11 people were rescued after being cut off by the tide, with the inshore lifeboat called to multiple reports of people in danger of getting stranded.
Saturday (August 1) was another very busy day.
At 1.13pm, Hunstanton RNLI and Hunstanton Coast Guard Rescue Team rescued 14 people who had been stranded by a high tide on Scolt Head Island. Half an hour later, at Mundesley, a man fell from a cliff near the holiday park after taking a short cut, prompting a call for Cromer and Sheringham Coastguard and the East Anglian Air Ambulance, while around the same time a woman fell at Coal Yard Slip.
Later, four adults and four children were rescued after being cut off from the tide at Stiffkey Marshes, near Wells, and at 4.30pm, at Sea Palling, a fisherman who was struggling to swim back to shore after his boat had broken down was pulled from the sea.
Another person was rescued from the rip tide nearby.
Adrian Underwood, spokesman for Wells Lifeboat, said: “Visitors do not understand the tides and they are being cut off by the tide.
“When it starts to come in, it roars in,” he said.
He said the RNLI does not apportion blame but that some people “do not understand the water goes in and out”.
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There is a warning hooter at Wells, which goes off four hours before the high water, warning people if you are on the wrong side of the estuary, you should be coming back “fairly immediately”, he said.
“Sadly it has been reported some people think when the hooter goes off that means they have four more hours.”
A clock on the toilet block next to the cafe shows the high tide times.
Mr Underwood said the good weather forecast meant they had anticipated some of the issues.
Kevin Woodcock, deputy station manager at Gorleston HM Coastguard, emphasised the importance of “local knowledge”.
“When you go to the seaside you need to talk to the lifeguards, because even experienced paddle boarders and swimmers can be caught out.
“It is important to be aware of tide times and be aware of your surroundings,” he said.
He advised visitors to go to a beach with lifeguards and to ask about conditions, the weather.
“Don’t take inflatables to the sea, that’s an absolute no-no,” he added.
A Coastguard spokesman said: “Every year, HM Coastguard responds to many incidents where people are cut off by the tide at Scolt Head Island as well as other places on the Norfolk coast where you can get cut off by the tide.
“It’s vital to check the tide times before you set off and make sure you start your walk back to the mainland in plenty of time.
“Don’t risk the incoming tide catching you out by leaving it too late.
“In an emergency at the coast, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard ”
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