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RNLI Moelfre volunteers save older adult in grave danger of drowning

The RNLI volunteer crew were alerted just after 10 am (05.11.21) to a person drifting out to sea off Bull Bay. He had called for help on a VHF handheld radio, and there had also been several reports from concerned members of the public.

As the crew were assembling and the shore crew preparing the stations inshore lifeboat “Enfys2”, Holyhead coastguard broadcasted a PanPan urgency call requesting the immediate assistance of any other vessels in the area.

A local Sailing vessel on passage responded to the call and proceeded to the area where the small rowing boat was last seen. The ILB was launched within 10 minutes and, with three crew members onboard, made the best speed to the north. After a challenging passage, the crew located the Yacht and elderly gentleman in his 8 ft boat 1.5 miles to the east of Bull Bay.

With excellent seamanship, the Yacht skipper had managed to manoeuvre the 16mtr vessel to within throwing distance of the rowing boat and secured a rope, preventing it from drifting closer to the rocks or capsizing in the 2-3 metre overfalls.

Once on scene, the ILB was manoeuvred alongside the rowing boat and the man evacuated to the lifeboat. The Yacht slipped the rope and continued their passage. The elderly gentleman was cold, wet, and visibly shaken after his ordeal. The decision was made that due to the weather and sea conditions, rigging a tow with the casualty on board was too dangerous, and it was essential to get him back ashore as quickly as possible for medical assessment.

Moelfre Coastguard team members kept looking out for the developing situation and were waiting to assist at Bull Bay. The casualty complained of being exhausted and extremely cold, so he was wrapped up in a thermal protection aid, neoprene head scarf, and a lifejacket.

When the casualty was safely onshore, a complete medical assessment was carried out with the assistance of the coastguard team. The man’s wet clothes were removed, he was wrapped in dry blankets and placed in a vehicle with the heating on. Kind members of the public gave the gentleman a hot drink and provided extra blankets while we awaited the arrival of the ambulance service to carry out the medical assessment. Once the Ambulance crew arrived, a handover was completed, and Holyhead Coastguard stood down the ILB crew, so they could proceed back to Moelfre.

As the crew headed out of the bay, a quick search was carried out to the west in an attempt to locate the abandoned vessel; however, the sea conditions weren’t favourable, so its last known position was passed to Holyhead coastguard, and they were happy to release the lifeboat to return to the station.

The stations full-time Mechanic and Helm Vince Jones said

“The gentleman was fortunate to have not capsized in the confused and rough tidal race. Although he hadn’t intended to go beyond the shelter of Bull Bay, the tide and wind caught him out and completely overwhelmed both him and his small boat. No one knew he’d gone out rowing, and had he not called for help on his VHF radio, it’s doubtful anyone would have known he needed urgent help, and the outcome would have been entirely different. Of course, we always do our best to recover vessels and their occupants. Still, ultimately, we are there to save lives at sea, and today recovering the small rowing vessel wasn’t worth endangering the gentleman or our crew any further.

We want to thank the skipper and crew member of the yacht ‘Predator 2’ for their assistance; they made a massive difference to the outcome of today’s rescue. Thank you also to the Coastguard for their service and the residents for providing blankets and hot drinks. We would urge anyone venturing out on the sea to always carry means for calling for help. Lifejackets are essential, along with wearing the appropriate warm and waterproof clothing”

Pic. RNLI/Moelfre


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