From Bude Coastguard:
Bude Coastguard Rescue Team was paged at 10:41 this morning (Monday 19th October) following a report to Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre (CGOC) of a lone male kayaker in difficulty in the waters near Pencannow Point, just north of Crackington Haven. Bude Lifeboat was also tasked.
As the Rescue Team arrived on the top of the cliffs at Pencannow Point, two Rescue Officers scouted the immediate area at the base of the cliffs from the cliff path for any sign of the kayaker. With Falmouth CGOC now liaising with the kayaker through his partner (who was based nearby). The casualty estimated he was approximately one mile from the shore, to the north west of Pencannow Point.
With no obvious signs in the immediate waters off the headland, the Rescue Officers found a safe vantage point with views to the north and south, and continued to search for the kayaker. With increasing wind speeds from the south east and a low temperature, the decision was made to scramble Rescue 924, the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter based in Newquay. Meanwhile, Bude Lifeboat arrived on scene and began a search pattern in the area where the casualty believed himself to be. With no obvious signs of the kayaker, who also was not able to see the Lifeboat or the Coastguard Team, Falmouth CGOC then proceeded to task Padstow Lifeboat also.
While approximately 1.5 miles from shore, Bude Lifeboat suggested they fire a day flare in the hope the casualty could further estimate his position. Once the flare was in the air, the casualty passed information back through the CGOC that he was in fact significantly further out to sea, and was now losing visibility of the cliffs.
Shortly afterward, Rescue 924 arrived overhead and began a search pattern based on the casualty’s information. With the casualty able to pass his current position back through Falmouth in relation to the helicopter overhead, Rescue 924 was soon able to get a visual of the kayaker, and maintained a hover over the kayaker whilst Bude Lifeboat made its way to his position, approximately five nautical miles from the shore.
Once Bude Lifeboat reached the casualty, got him onboard the Lifeboat and ascertained that he did not require any emergency first aid, the Lifeboat immediately began to head back toward Crackington Haven through increasingly choppy seas. Meanwhile, Rescue 924 reported the co-ordinates of the empty and drifting kayak to Padstow Lifeboat, so that they could retrieve the craft and negate any possibility of missing persons reports down the line.
As the Lifeboat made its way to the beach at Crackington Haven, three Rescue Officers proceeded down to the shore to meet with the crew as they approached. Once safely landed, the casualty was handed over into the care of the Rescue Officers, who gave the casualty a final check for any first aid required, before walking him back to his vehicle.
In this instance, it was extremely lucky that the casualty was carrying a fully charged phone, was wearing a lifejacket, and had alerted others to his situation relatively early.
If you’re heading out to sea in a kayak or canoe, we would always recommend that you inform someone of your plan, including points of arrival and departure, timescale, number in your group and other relevant information. Check weather forecasts and tidal conditions and ensure that your skill levels are appropriate for where you are kayaking. Wear a buoyancy aid and check that your equipment is functioning properly, that any distress flares are in date and are stowed where you can reach them. Carriage of a 406 Personal Locator Beacon is highly recommended for more remote locations. We would also advise people to follow the RYA guidelines on safe boating, and to consider downloading the RYA’s SafeTrx app. Please visit rya.org.uk/knowledge-advice/safe-boating/Pages/hub.aspx for more information.