In 2007, 'one of the busiest years on record', a whopping 7,834 people were rescued by the UK's Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboats and over half of lifeboat launches were to leisure craft. However, the most worrying news was the increase in Man Overboard rescues
RNLI inshore lifeboat Leslie and Peter Downes D-676 escorting the sailing yacht Cilan which was taking on water, photo by RNLI
The final RNLI rescue figures for 2007 also show an increase in the number of man overboard incidents for leisure craft – rising from 161 (2006) to 201 (2007), up 25% from 2006.
RNLI cliff rescue
Commenting on the rise in RNLI rescues to man overboard incidents, RNLI Sea Safety Manager, Peter Chennell says:
‘Although only a relatively small percentage of the total reasons for lifeboat call-outs to leisure boaters, it’s worrying to see such a large increase in man overboard incidents. It is hoped the boating public have started to take on board the RNLI’s lifejacket awareness campaign message, useless unless worn.
‘We’re aiming to encourage more of the boating community to automatically put their lifejackets on when they go to sea and decide when to take them off, because experience tells us that in an emergency there is not always time to make sure your lifejacket is securely and correctly fitted. Wearing a lifejacket is one of the RNLI’s five sea safety tips along with: checking your engine and fuel; telling others where you’re going; carrying some means of calling for help; and keeping an eye on weather and tides.’
Final figures show that the RNLI’s lifeboats were launched 8,141 times during 2007, rescuing 7,834 people. More than half of the 8,141 RNLI lifeboat launches – 4,287 – were to recreational sea users in leisure craft. This figure is down slightly on 2006 rescues (4,361), perhaps due to the unseasonable weather in the early summer months.
Of the 4,287 RNLI lifeboat launches to leisure craft in 2007 almost half (43%) were to powered craft2, well over a third (40%) of lifeboat launches were to the aid of sailing craft3 and 17% were to manual leisure craft4.
The major cause for RNLI lifeboat launches to (manual, power and sailing) leisure craft, as in previous years, was overwhelmingly machinery failure (29% of incidents), this is followed by craft being stranded or grounded (13%) and vessels meeting adverse weather conditions (9%) as the three main causes for lifeboat launches to leisure craft in 2007.
The top three reasons for lifeboat launches to each specific type of leisure craft in 2007 were machinery or engine failure for both power and sailing leisure craft, while the impact of adverse weather conditions was the main reason for lifeboat launches to manual leisure craft.
Despite fewer visitors to the coast during the early summer months5 due to the unseasonable weather, RNLI lifeboats and lifeguards continued to respond to a high number of calls for help, as more and more people are using the water and beaches for leisure pursuits. RNLI lifeguards, who were operational on 71 beaches in the south west of England and East Anglia, rescued 1,350 people, came to the aid of a further 9,883 people and responded to 8,201 incidents. The wet summer weather also meant that the RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team and volunteer lifeboat crews were particularly active inland, rescuing another 200 people in flood hit areas across the UK during the summer months.
UK residents should know that the RNLI depends on voluntary contributions and legacies for its income:
*The RNLI is a registered charity that saves lives at sea.
*It provides, on call, the 24-hour service necessary to cover search and rescue requirements to 100 nautical miles out from the coasts of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
*There are over 230 lifeboat stations.
*RNLI Lifeguards operate on many of the busiest beaches in the UK.
*The RNLI further saves lives through sea and beach education.
To find out how to support the RNLI, go to their website