Following multiple 999 calls from people on Knoll Beach in Studland reporting that three people on paddleboards were being blown out to sea by strong offshore gales from Storm Francis, the Swanage All-weather Lifeboat (ALB) launched and headed towards Studland Bay.
Fortunately at the time of the incident at around 3.30 pm on Tuesday 25th August 2020, a training lifeboat 13-04 was in the area and it also went to search for the paddleboarders.
With Swanage Coastguards on their way too, the Swanage Lifeboat headed further north east through the choppy sea. It was then that reports came in that the training lifeboat had picked up a woman and her two children from the sea and had rescued their two paddleboards as well.
“The casualties were cold but otherwise unharmed”
Swanage Lifeboat Station said:
“The casualties were cold but otherwise unharmed and were taken on board the ALB for a trip back to Swanage, where they were met by the Swanage Coastguards.”
Swanage Coastguard reported:
“The mother and two children visiting the area had been on the water when the conditions blew them offshore sparking the rescue operation. All were picked up and brought back to the lifeboat station at Swanage.
“Always check the conditions inshore and offshore. Ask at the local visitors centres about the conditions and the safe areas to participate in activities.”
Fishing vessel adrift with no crew on board
Meanwhile another call came into the Swanage Lifeboat Station reporting that a fishing vessel was adrift with no people on board, sparking fears for the safety of the crew amid the stormy waters. The All-weather lifeboat prepared to launch again into rough seas and gale force winds, at around 4.40 pm.
Swanage Lifeboat Station reported:
“The crew strapped into their seats anticipating a rough ride, plotted a route and headed around Peveril Point. The shock-absorbing seats on the ALB did their job well and a little over 30 minutes later the ALB arrived on the scene. Conditions were challenging, but several close passes by the small casualty boat indicated that it had broken from a mooring and drifted out to sea.”
Consideration was given to towing the vessel back to shore but with the weather too rough to do so safely, the decision was made to allow the boat to drift. It was later believed that the vessel had been blown all the way from Brest in France.
Poole Lifeboat crew were also out during Storm Francis attending to a number of boats that had broken free from their moorings in the rough weather. The dangerous state of the sea is clearly illustrated by the video posted by the Poole Lifeboat crew on social media.
“Conditions out there were lively”
Poole Lifeboat volunteer helm, Jonathan Clark said:
“Conditions out there were lively. We would advise all boat owners, when it’s safe to do so, to check their moorings, make sure that their mooring lines, ropes and chains are in good condition and of adequate size for your vessel.”