Went out for a paddle with a good friend today, just hugging the coast for a few miles then 20 minutes relaxing on a reef off shore which is exposed at low tide. We were out on our (shared ownership) two man 'sit on top' kayak, which although it lies low in the water (plently of drag), you can carry more stuff, and it's an incredibly stable beast which needs really rough waves to capsize - especially useful when you leave the calm waters in the bay here.
Anyway, on our way back, we saw crowds of people on the clifftop and the harbour patrol boat below so we thought we'd investigate what was going on.
It turned out that 2 young teenage lads had walked round the coast at low tide and became 'cut off' as the tide came in. They were stuck about a quarter of the way up the cliff and the Coastgaurd cliff rescue team were at the top setting up their winch to send a guy down to get them to safety.
After telling us this, the harbour master asked us if we were prepared to paddle around the base of the cliff, in case they fell off, because the reef in that area meant they couldn't get their boat any closer than 50+ metres to the shoreline. Basically, if the worst happened, precious seconds could be saved with our presence much closer to the scene.
We of course agreed straight away and paddled over to chat to the lads, with a little bit of friendly teasing that they will be in the local paper next week, and that they should expect a 'sea safety advice' lecture when they get winched back up top. They are on holiday here from inner city Birmingham (150 miles away, inland) and they have only been to the beach a few times in their lives - hence the mistake about tide times and planning coastal walks.
The whole rescue took about 40 mins before they were safe up top again, the large crowd cheered, and we paddled back round the coast to 'our' beach.
On the walk back home we bumped into the lads again, and although they were very embarrassed, they were absolutely grateful to the rescue guys who pulled them up the cliff.
The worrying part of all this though is that the government actually wants to close the local coastguard station to save money, and there's a real risk that this might happen.
When there's close to a quarter of a million people on 22 miles of coast in the bay during the summer, I think it's a terrible idea. I'd even be prepared to pay more taxes if it meant the station was saved...but then again, my viewpoint is obviously going to be a bit biased because I'm a kayaker
Torbay MP Fights to Save Coastguard
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