Rescue teams scramble at Camber


Emergency teams launched a rescue bid on Sunday August 5 when a four-year-old girl was reported missing on Camber Sands.

Rye Harbour’s inshore lifeboat was joined by the rescue helicopter from Lydd, police, coastguards and lifeguards, who used loud-hailers to clear the sea, which was thronged with swimmers.

HM Coastguard requested the assistance of Rye Harbour’s inshore lifeboat at 2:32pm. In response, the boat was launched at 2:45 with Tony Peters at the helm. The beach was at the time was heaving with people enjoying the prolonged summer sunshine.

Memories of two years ago as the Coastguard helicopter joins the search

The boat headed to Camber beach and Tony Peters said: “I took us into safe but close water. The Rye Harbour boat was joined by the rescue helicopter from Lydd, the coastguards, police and RNLI lifeguards, all with the same intent, to save the life of the missing youngster.”

Crew member, Sharon Gozna, added: “The coastguards and lifeguards used loud-hailers to evacuate the people from the sea. I had never seen this before during an operation at Camber but it was really successful, enabling the lifeboat and helicopter to do a thorough sweep of the water. Anyone left would obviously be in distress.”

At 3:55pm the youngster was found safe and sound on the shore and the lifeboat returned to station.

Two years ago, two men drowned in one accident and five in another while swimming off Camber Sands.

Sunday’s drama was another operation that showed the strength of agencies all working together. An RNLI Lifeguard water rescue craft ran as close to the water’s edge as possible, the helicopter operated a sweep overhead and the RNLI Lifeboat was able to search the water unimpeded whilst the police and coastguards were assisting on the beach.

Helmsman Tony Peters said in the debriefing that he had been very impressed with the professionalism and calmness of his crew, Sharon Gozna, Izzy Sharpe and Matt Ellis, during the shout.

During the prolonged hot weather when the public flock to the beach it is very important to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible. The RNLI advises that children are at least risk when supervised. As soon as you get to the beach, it is best to agree a meeting point in case of separation. On RNLI Lifeguard beaches visit the lifeguard hut and they will give you a special wristband to put your contact details on. Always respect the water.

Rye Harbour RNLI has a busy start to August

On the following day, Monday August 6, at 5:45pm Rye Harbour Lifeboat was again requested by HM Coastguard to launch.

This was in response to reports of a twenty-foot motor vessel with one person on board broken-down two miles south of Dungeness lighthouse.

The crew was paged and after a briefing session the lifeboat launched at 6pm. It was found that the casualty, who was on passage from Ramsgate to Eastbourne, had run out of fuel: a tow was established and the vessel was brought into Rye Harbour, where it was tied up on the public slipway and the skipper given assistance to obtain fuel from a local garage.

Matt Ellis, volunteer crew member, said; “Once we were in the vicinity of the search area we called up the skipper of the stricken craft on VHF radio, and were then able to use our DF (direction finding) equipment to vector on to him and reach him quickly and efficiently. The Atlantic 85 is an incredibly well-equipped boat, and the on-going programme of training and exercising means that the Rye Harbour lifeboat crew is ready to support in situations like this whenever it is called upon.”

The RNLI stresses the importance of making sure before setting out on a voyage, no matter how short, that all occupants have fully-functioning life-jackets and that vessels are well-maintained, including making sure that there is sufficient fuel to arrive safely at the chosen destination.

The lifeboat returned to station at 8pm, was washed down, refuelled and ready for further service within thirty minutes.

Photos: kt Bruce and Becca Fletcher

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