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"Send For Help" - Group Scrawl Message In Sand

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7:01am 24th July 2013

Seven people have been rescued from a Cornish beach after scrawling "send for help" in the sand.

The four adults and three children had arrived at Butter Hole near Padstow in a boat but could not leave again as two metre swell crashed in.

Rock and Padstow lifeboats were scrambled yesterday afternoon - after a walker on the cliff tops raised the alarm.

The group had travelled around Stepper Point to a beach at Butter Hole in a Wayfarer sailing dinghy and a small rigid inflatable boat (RIB) for a picnic.

As the tide flooded the waves increased and the adults were afraid to launch back into the sea with the children onboard. 

With no VHF radio or mobile phone reception, they wrote 'send for help' in the sand. This message was seen by a walker on the cliff top who raised the alarm.

The Rock RNLI volunteers launched at 3.21pm with Neil Davis on the helm of the D class inshore lifeboat Rusper, and Dan Boseley and Leon Burt as crew.  Padstow coastguard team were also tasked and later the Padstow RNLI all-weather lifeboat was called out.   

When the Rock crew arrived on scene the swell was two metres high and dumping on to the beach. Despite this Neil managed to get Leon ashore so he could help in transferring the children to the lifeboat. With difficulty and the ever present risk of capsize, the RNLI volunteers managed to get one of the adults and the three youngsters onboard and then transferred them to a nearby tripping boat, the Ocean Voyager.    

The lifeboat team then returned to the beach to take off the remaining adults who were then transferred to the Padstow RNLI all-weather lifeboat that was standing by. This part of the rescue was made more difficult when the lifeboat propeller got tangled up in floating rope and net being washed in on the surf.

While the casualties were taken back in to Padstow, the Rock team recovered the Wayfarer dinghy from the beach and then the RIB, taking both back to Rock

Mike Hewitt is the RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Rock. He said: "This was a very difficult rescue carried out with great skill and bravery.  There was the ever present threat of the lifeboat being swamped or capsized by the dumping seas, but using their RNLI training our crew worked together to recover all the people and then their boats.

"The group made a very sensible decision not to try launching their boats into the building seas but they were lucky that a passing walker noticed the message calling for help written in the sand and I would remind people that it's important to have a suitable means of contacting someone when going to sea. Don't assume you will have a mobile phone signal when you go to a beach by water so take a VHF radio.

"Be aware of local conditions too. Today the group left in near perfect conditions but big waves can suddenly develop around here when the tide starts to come in and this can catch you out"

7:01am 24th July 2013

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