#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI was requested by Belfast Coastgaurd to launch to the aid of what was believed to be a dinghy in trouble a half-mile south of Newcastle Harbour on Saturday afternoon (31 December).
However, when the inshore lifeboat arrived on scene, the crew discovered that the callout was to three kayakers in trouble, with one man found clinging to his kayak in the freezing water and unable to get to safety.
The lifeboat volunteers observed one kayak being towed by another but only one person was visible. On further investigation it was established there was one person in the water further along the shoreline.
Proceeding further south, the lifeboat crew located a male clinging to the front of his kayak, unable to get to safety.
The person was recovered from the freezing water onto the lifeboat and the crew carried out the RNLI’s ‘casualty care’ before returning to Newcastle Lifeboat Station to await the arrival of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.
The lifeboat then went back to the scene to rescue a further kayaker and his kayak while Newcastle Coastguard recovered the third casualty from the shore line. The casualties were transferred into the care of paramedics.
“Another five minutes and we could have been dealing with a completely different outcome,” said Newcastle RNLI lifeboat helm Alan Jones. “The water is absolutely freezing at this time of year.”