Safety Spotlight - Prepare, stay aware as the sea doesn't care. We do.

Beauty can be deceptive, especially around our wonderful coast. The sea really doesn’t care who you are and will treat everyone with the same disdain. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an Olympic swimming sensation like Tom Dean, a celebrated round-the-world sailor like Dame Ellen MacArthur, the King or Queen of the Jungle or just someone out to have fun with friends and family.

Whoever you are and whatever your experience, the sea might not care about your safety.  But we do -every hour and every day. People can and do get caught out in moments and happy turns horrible in seconds. With a little preparation and staying aware, the risks can be minimised.

Credit Andrew Morris. Mullion Coastguard Rescue Team and the RNLI were sent to help this week when three people on a dinghy were struggling with the tide and offshore winds 

Hundreds of people have needed our help around the UK in the last week, in the best and worst weather, from blazing sun to storms and gales. They include people of all ages who have been:

  • Cut off by tides on slippery rocks with the sea about to sweep them away
  • Panicking as they were blown out far from shore on kayaks, paddleboards and inflatables
  • Trapped on yachts bucketing around in stormy seas
  • Stuck up to their necks in soft mud
  • In agony after a simple slip during an innocent walk

It could easily happen to you. Reduce the risks and be safety smart.

Credit: Angela Davidson, Scrabster CRT. RNLI lifeboats were sent to rescue the kayakers in difficulties

Kayak crisis: Earlier this week four kayaking pals got blown out to sea and couldn’t get back against the wind and tide at Duncansby Head in poor weather. Our teams from Duncansby, Wick, Scrabster and Melvich plus three lifeboats were sent to bring them safely back to shore. Happily, they were just shaken and not injured.

Be safety smart and remember: lifejackets, buoyancy aids, a fully charged mobile phone (in a waterproof pouch), a VHF radio and appropriate clothing. Inflatables such as kayaks and paddleboards are easily blown out to sea and inflatable toys even more so. Please keep toys for the pool. The beach is not a big swimming pool.


Credit: Ben Shepherd, Mumbles CRT. It was a hot sunny day on Gower when a man slipped and needed help

When a walk went wobbly: At the stunning Three Cliffs Bay in Wales on a sunny day’s walk it all went wrong. A man slipped, injuring his leg and shoulder requiring Mumbles and Oxwich Coastguard Rescue Teams and the RNLI lifeguards to carry him off by stretcher so he could travel on for medical attention.

Be safety smart: wear appropriate clothes and footwear and ensure you have drinking water. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Take a fully charged mobile phone and keep a track of where you are so we can find you faster should you or anyone need help.


Credit: Alan Manson, Southend on Sea CRT. At Southend this week, the recovery of a yacht went wrong when a line snapped and our help was summoned

Southend stranding: We’ve been helping innumerable yachts with anxious crew on small vessels in difficulties from being caught out at sea to dragging anchors and aground. One included a 4.30am report of a 22ft sailing vessel with two worried people at Southend.

It was being recovered from its mooring after strong winds overnight but had then got a rope tangled around the propeller from the dinghy helping recover it. The rope snapped and the vessel drifted onto the rocky shore. They called 999 and when our rescue teams arrived luckily the situation was safe, and the vessel was refloated later that day.

Be safety smart: ensure you are properly equipped with all the right safety gear. Check tides and weather at all times. Have a VHF and a means of calling for help, download the RYA free SafeTRX app. Check out all the safety advice from our RYA friends

 Remember to always use a kill cord and ensure that it is attached to the driver of the boat. For more safety information click here for kill cords  

Stay safety smart. Know your tides

Tides – what and why?

Tides catch you out, even if you go to the coast often, and can be a bit of a surprise if you’re more accustomed to the non-tidal balmy waters of the Med. The orbit of the earth and the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon affect our tides. And without getting into too much detail, the simplest way is to remember that a full tide (from high to high) takes around 12 hours and 6 hours to change from high to low tide and vice versa. Tidal times are constantly on the move and are different right the way around the UK.

There are lots of free and easy ways to ensure you know what the tide is going to do at your location. It’s very important to check them if you’re planning a visit to the coast and/or going out in or on the water.

  • Check the  Met Office page on tide times  
  • Get a free app for your phone. For example; ‘My Tide Times’, MSW - Magic Seaweed 
  • Check out the information at lifeguard stations and beach offices
  • Understand tides, see this summary from our colleagues at RNLI (click here)
  • Timetable key; H.W = High Water (High Tide) L.W = Low W (Low Tide) M = Meters (approx height of the expected tide)

If you or anyone gets into difficulties around our coast please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. We’ll send emergency services teams to help 24/7. It’s better to be safe than sorry.


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