Kayak Incident - Comms - Praise & the lookout service
I was out walking yesterday along the Jurassic Coast and stopped for a sandwich at Durlston Castle, sitting by the Globe having a good view of the sea with my girlfriend. She looks up and say what’s that, I look and see a Kayaker in the distance making his way from the direction of Swanage towards Durlston, think nothing of it and then my girlfriend says wow he is going pretty quick as the distance he’s travelled in a few minutes was impressive, uuum my brain stops concentrating on a nice roast beef sandwich and I start looking closer at the Kayaker, sure enough he has covered a lot of distance, I look at the tidal race, consider the time of year as in spring tides and start to think he’s going to have a problem soon.
Sure enough just past Durlston Castle he turns around to head back towards Swanage, I watch him and also notice a number of bird watchers on the cliff watching him, I look at my watch and watch him closely for about 5 minutes, I realise he has made no progress due to the strong tidal race and although I could not see his kayak in great detail I thought it didn’t look like a decent sea going kayak and thinking about how far out he was when I first saw him I’m now getting concerned.
As mobile phone reception is non-existent in that area by the coast I walk up to Durlston castle and use the land phone there to call the coastguard. A land based team is called and RNLI Swanage is paged to launch the inshore life boat. The land based team arrive and I walk back down to the coast path and have a chat with them, the kayaker can no longer been seen, lifeboat is now on its way from Swanage. I had back to walk back to Swanage along coast path. About 25 minutes later I see in the distance the Swanage inshore lifeboat heading back towards Swanage.
I call in at the coastguard lookout place in Swanage and ask them if the RNLI had found him, yes he was found on the rocks just below the Durlston Castle cliffs, very tired but OK, he and his kayak were taken back to Swanage and dropped off on the beach where they had launched from (and given advice). The guy was not an experienced kayaker, had no real knowledge or experience of spring tides in that area, had no comms and his kayak wasn’t up to the conditions. I’m sure he learnt a few lessons.
Key thing for us ribbers would be if you see someone that looks like they may be in trouble don’t think other people have called it in, you call it in, better to raise a false alarm than not raise an alarm.
While I was in the coastguard lookout station I had a general chat with the two guys in there about what they do, it was rather interesting, their mission is “to be the ears and eyes of the coast, cliffs and footpaths for the safety of all users.” I had the impression if they aren’t involved in an incident they like the odd member of the public popping in as they are very proud of the service they do and like showing people what they do. Funnily enough when I told them I often go past in my rib called ‘Puddleduck’ one of them suddenly said we know puddleduck and then said they were very impressed with my radio comms when assisting a missing diver incident last year which was a nice thing to say and goes to show the RYA VHF training has finally sunk in.
Not many people know but the coastguard lookouts since a year or so ago now have they own VHF channel – channel 65
If your walking the coast pop in and say hello to them.