Exmouth RNLI rescue - eyewitness account

Exmouth RNLI rescued four men from rough seas after their boat capsized.

Eyewitness have spoken of the dramatic rescue efforts by Exmouth RNLI when four men were thrown from their boat into rough sea.

The inshore lifeboat was launched at around 4.30pm on Sunday after Ann and David Garratt, of Bapton Close, spotted a vessel near the sand bar overturn and toss four men overboard into high waves, and raised the alarm.

The men were plucked from the stormy water by the inshore lifeboat crew after swimming back to their upturned rigid inflatable boat (RIB).

The RNLI said large waves breaking over the stricken vessel resulted in one of the rescued swimming from the upturned boat to the lifeboat.

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Mr Garratt, a member of Exmouth National Coastwatch Institute, said: “My wife and I were sitting in our car next to the lifeboat station. The tide was very high and the sea rough.

“My wife noticed a rigid inflatable boat out by the buoys with four people in it.

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The people in the next car had a pair of binoculars and saw the RIB turn over and the occupants thrown into the sea.

“I dialled 999 and reported what was going on, giving them the details. They said they would report it to the coastguard and told me to go into the lifeboat house and report it, which my wife and I did.”

Ann Garratt said: “The lifeboat crew deserve so much praise. The men were all in the water. It was white waves. It was bad. They were very, very lucky.”

Force seven winds and treacherous conditions meant the upturned boat could not be recovered.

The RNLI said the inshore lifeboat was quickly launched, but the conditions were such that the lifeboat was nearly working to its limits.

Inshore lifeboat helmsman Roger Jackson said: “It was as rough a sea as we had launched into for quite some time.

“Conditions off the bar were highly treacherous with steep and confused seas – with waves of up to three metres at times.”

Paul Myers, Brixham Coastguard watch officer, urged people to check the weather forecast before taking to the water and always to carry the correct safety equipment and wear lifejackets.

He said: “The force seven winds and rough seas on scene meant that it was a difficult rescue for the inshore lifeboat, so it was inadvisable conditions to take a boat out into for people of any boating capability.”

Coastguard officers, the rescue helicopter from Portland, and the RNLI all-weather lifeboat were also tasked to the scene.

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