By Mick Gale, Watch Keeper. The National Coastwatch Institute (NCI) is staffed by volunteers working closely with the RNLI, Coastguard rescue and The Maritime Agency at Falmouth (formerly known as The Coastguard). Read his previous article here which tells you more about the service and the vital part they play in coastal/maritime safety.
This report relates to the rescue of a kayaker on 15th September.
A kayaker had left Boscastle harbour in the evening and was paddling close inshore, below the cliffs and out of sight, when disaster struck. He was carrying a VHR radio and was able to put out a Mayday call on channel 16 which was received and acted upon by our NCI watch keeper volunteer on duty at the Boscastle NCI station (National Coastwatch Institution)1. As a result of that call the Padstow lifeboat was called along with the Coastguard rescue team. The kayaker was rescued and with first aid administered for minor scratches he was safely taken back to the harbour.
We have his permission to use his thank you email for any publicity for the work done by the NCI.
“Many thanks to your volunteer for picking up and conveying my call for assistance following my capsize in my sea kayak this evening. I was a little concerned about my predicament with no obvious route out from near Western Blackapit up the cliff, and no obvious line of sight receivers for my radio call, so it was with some relief to make contact and to hear assistance was on its way.
Reflecting on the events, I realise, with hindsight, that I shouldn’t have been in that location alone. I also need to hone my Eskimo roll, which failed me this time. I think there are other steps I could have taken, such as using a solid (rather than inflatable) paddle float, to set up an outrigger to stabilise the kayak. I had managed to get back aboard twice, but being awash, it was unstable.”
The kayaker was saved because he was able to make that Mayday call and it highlights the importance of carrying some means of calling for help whilst at sea and the presence of those who are placed to pick up on the signals. He could also have used his radio to inform the local NCI that he was leaving the harbour in advance and giving his expected route.