Exmouth RNLI has described as "fool hardy" the actions of a yachtsman, who swam out to his yacht after dark because he was concerned about its safety
A sailor, who swam out to his yacht on the River Exe in water temperatures of 10c, is being described as “extremely fool hardy” by Exmouth RNLI.
His actions resulted in the launch of the Exmouth RNLI inshore lifeboat, George Bearman II, at 1815 on 12 February 2017.
The man made a “disjointed call” via VHF radio to the UK Coastguard after swimming out 50 metres “in dark and very cold conditions” to his 6.5 metre yacht, which was anchored off Topsham on the River Exe.
RNLI volunteers rescued the man and took him to Topsham Quay where paramedics and the Exmouth Coastguard Team were waiting to assist him.
In a statement, Exmouth RNLI said: “The man had swam out approximately 50-metres in the dark and very cold conditions as he was concerned for the safety of his vessel.”
“Once located, crew volunteers recovered the casualty to Topsham Quay to waiting paramedics, ambulance and Exmouth Coastguard Team. The yacht was secured at Topsham before volunteers returned to the station in very cold and wet conditions at 8pm.”
The man’s actions have been criticised by RNLI community safety officer, Peter Williams, who recently gave a talk about cold water shock to the community to prevent people taking unnecessary risks in the water.
“The decision to swim out to a boat in the dark and at this time of year is at best unwise and at worst extremely fool hardy,” he stressed.
“The water temperature is around 10c – cold water shock and hypothermia are very real dangers. Cold water shock quickly numbs the senses, makes breathing difficult and increases heart rate significantly,” continued Williams.
“Water removes heat from the body 25 times faster than direct contact with air. At 10c a person in the water without correct clothing and suitable personal flotation assistance will almost certainly find difficulty in swimming, staying afloat and will likely be unconscious within an hour,” highlighted the community safety officer.
“This gentlemen is very lucky he managed to reach his vessel and summon assistance from the RNLI,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Exmouth RNLI’s inshore crew had been called out to two men on board an 8-metre leisure boat that had run aground on a sand bank at the entrance to the River Exe.
The men had been on their way back from Dartmouth when they found themselves in difficulty as a result of the falling tide.
The crew reached them within five minutes and discovered the casualties were happy to wait for the rising tide.
A member of Exmouth RNLI went on board the vessel to give local advice and check their VHF radio was tuned in correctly.
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