Swanage sea rowers rescue paddle boarders in trouble

Two men fishing in Durlston Bay on a paddle board with no phone, radio nor lifejackets, were lucky to be spotted by a crew from Swanage Sea Rowing Club (SSRC) as the tide and wind swept them out to sea.

The rescue on Saturday 18th September 2022 has led to new warnings about the safety of paddle boarders going out to sea unprepared.

Swanage Sea Rowing Club had to rescue two paddleboarders who were in danger

The paddle boarders were being swept away from Peveril Ledge into open sea

Two men sharing the same board with one paddle

The two men who needed rescuing and towing back to Durlston Bay, were sharing the same paddle board, with one paddle between them, and had no way of calling for help.

Swanage Sea Rowing Club spokesperson Janice Thomson said:

“A crew was out for their regular Saturday row at about 10.45 am, an hour before high tide. The weather was bright and clear, but chilly, and there was an offshore wind.

“As they headed out towards Peveril Point, the crew noticed a small craft far out on Peveril Ledge with two men on board.

“As it seemed a bit unusual the coxswain decided to go closer to investigate, and it soon became obvious that the men were waving to attract the crew’s attention.

“The two men had set out from Durlston Bay on a stand-up paddle board to go fishing, then realised that they were unable to return against the incoming tide, which was sweeping them away from the ledge and out into the middle of Swanage Bay.

Durlston Bay
Library image

Durlston Bay, where two men with one paddleboard went out fishing with no safety plan

No radio, no phone and no lifejackets

Janice continued:

“Both were wearing wetsuits, but they did not have a radio or phone with them, or lifejackets, and although they weren’t distressed, they were very tired and not managing at all to get anywhere against the tide and the wind.

“They were totally unprepared, and could have ended up anywhere, frankly – the wind was blowing towards the Isle of Wight and they were lucky that we found them when we did.”

The SSRC gig took them in tow and returned them to where they got into the sea at Durlston Bay, after contacting the National Coastwatch Institution to notify them that the situation was under control.

Members of Coastwatch had spotted the paddle boarders using binoculars, and tried to radio for help, but luckily the SSRC gig, which was virtually the only craft moving in the bay at the time, had already gone to their aid.

sea rowers rescuing two men on a paddleboard

Lucky to be rescued quickly by Swanage Sea Rowing Club Crew

“In all seriousness, they had a lucky escape”

Janice said:

“The two men were rescued with nothing more than injured pride, although they did have a lovely large bass to console them; but in all seriousness, they had a lucky escape.

“It’s not the first time we have had to go to the rescue of paddle boarders, who need to be a lot more aware of safety.

“They don’t understand the conditions at all, and you have to be pretty good to paddle against a strong tide; it can be quite nasty once you are over the ledge.”

The RNLI has saved the lives of 59 paddle boarders in the UK over the last ten years

Swanage sea rowing club

Swanage Sea Rowing Club Crew, pictured here paying a tribute of salute to the late Queen Elizabeth II

Boom in popularity and peril of paddle boards

A recent boom in the popularity of paddle boarding has led to a lot more rescues over the last two years.

Figures released this summer by the RNLI showed that the voluntary organisation saved the lives of 42 people in 2021 – and 59 in the last ten years – who got into serious danger while paddle boarding, canoeing or kayaking in the UK.

Lifeboat launches to paddle board incidents went up 64 percent in 2021 from the previous year – from 88 lauches to 144, while RNLI lifeguards responded to 504 paddle board incidents on beaches in 2021 – more than double the previous year’s number of 217.

Paddleboarders rescued from path of Condor ferry
Dorset Police

In July 2022, four Studland paddle boarders had to be rescued after drifting into a shipping channel in front of a ferry

Paddle boarders rescued from path of Condor ferry

In July 2022, Dorset Marine Police officers had to be urgently diverted to rescue four paddle boarders who had drifted away from Studland Beach and into the shipping lane and the path of a Condor ferry

Swanage Coastguard, who saw the danger just in time, said that the last person and his board were rescued less than a minute before the ferry crossed their path.

Swanage Lifeboat and the Training Lifeboat with the rescued paddleboards.
Swanage Lifeboat Station

Swanage Lifeboat crews on another call-out where paddle boarders got into danger

“Simple safety advice which could save your life”

Samantha Hughes of the RNLI’s Water Safety team said:

“Paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing are all extremely popular, and the RNLI has seen a large increase in our lifeboats and beach lifeguards going to the aid of people involved in these activities over the past few years.

“That’s why it’s important to be aware of some simple safety advice which could save your life. If you are heading out on the water, we would always advise you to wear a suitable personal flotation device.

“Always check the weather forecast and tide times, as this can affect your paddling, and always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

“Keep a means of calling for help attached to you in a waterproof pouch or close to hand, so that in an emergency you can call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

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