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Challenging Mother’s Day rescue mission in Walmer

Feature image credit: RNLI/Andrew MacDonald

The RNLI Walmer volunteers carried out a challenging rescue after receiving a report of three people that were cut off by the rising tide near St Margaret’s Bay.

Walmer’s D class inshore lifeboat Duggie Rodbard II launched at 10.35am on Sunday 14th of March. Shortly after, the engine was found not to be at full capacity, with a speed of only 13 knots. Helm Dan Sinclair had to make numerous stops to do on-board maintenance, but after not finding any problems they continued the rescue with the station’s Atlantic 85 Donald McLauchla.

The casualties were found trapped on an outcrop two meters above the sea. Two crew members were transferred to the D class for extra man power, other two attended the victims handing them lifejackets, masks and gloves, and a last pair stayed with the helm to keep the boat held head to sea.

The conditions were challenging, with swells coming from all angles and rocks hidden beneath the lifeboat. As a result, the crew struggled to keep the boat stable and away from smashing into the flank rocks nearby. There were moments where the boat could’ve been potentially thrown into the chalk rocks behind.

Credit: RNLI/Christopher Winslade

The survivors were told to wait for transfer once they were on board in the rescue boat. Nevertheless, only the first casualty was successfully transferred. Seconds later, a wave crashed on the boat engulfing it. The third casualty’s additional weigh had caused the mattress of the boat to disappear due to the water on board.

After struggling for a while, the crew managed to keep the boat head to sea and position it on the other side of the rock. A crew member rebounded, and the remaining members were rescued using throw bags.

Near the shore, Langdon Mobile Coastguard team was waiting with drysuits and lines to help recover the casualties and place them ashore. However, the circumstances kept being challenging, and various swells swamped the boat again.

On their return, Helm Dan Sinclair said: ‘This was the most challenging shout I have been involved in – mentally more than physically as I was the person making the decisions. Without the assistance of our Atlantic crew this rescue would not have been possible. I am so proud of all of the crew today performing so outstandingly in very challenging conditions. Each-and-every one of them played a vital role in getting the casualties home safe!”