Exmouth RNLI search for five hours overnight after red flare spotted

Exmouth RNLI's R and J Welburn returning to base after a five hour search overnight. PIcture: Exmout

Exmouth RNLI's R and J Welburn returning to base after a five hour search overnight. PIcture: Exmouth RNLI - Credit: Exmouth RNLI

Emergency services from Exmouth searched for nearly five hours on Friday (June 15) after a red flare was spotted.

At around 10.45pm, Exmouth RNLI’s Shannon-class lifeboat R and J Welburn was launched following the sighting of the flare around five miles north east of a vessel in Torbay.

Crew volunteers searched around three miles offshore between Sidmouth and Dawlish with no further sightings of concern.

On two occasions the national coastguard requested that white flares were set off by RNLI crew members to allow the first informant to find the location of the red flare.

Newquay coastguard helicopter joined the search at midnight for 30 minutes.

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R and J Welburn returned to Exmouth beach at 3.50am.

Roger Jackson, deputy coxswain for Exmouth RNLI, said it was a ‘tiring night’ for lifeboat volunteers.

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He said: “We did come across a yacht, seven miles south of Exmouth which had engine failure but the occupants had not used a flare and were happy to wait until the wind lifted to use their sails.

“However, they were reassured to see us in the early hours and appreciated the offer of help.

“We have been called out on a number of searches recently with nothing found, but we would rather be tasked to a false alarm than too late or not at all.

“What would help us is for those seeing anything or anyone presumed to be at risk, say what you have seen: when and where, with a bearing if possible and where you are as it can help reduce the search area.”

Mr Jackson also said a parachute rocket flare on a day or night of good visibility can be seen for more than 20 miles.

He also issued some safety advice adding: “We would recommend everybody taking to the water to carry emergency equipment, including a full set of flares – not just one, and it’s vital to check they’re not out of date and you or the operator know how to use them.

“When used properly, you’re more likely to be seen and the UK Coastguard alerted.”

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