Answering what was the Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team’s third shout of the day yesterday (Sat 20th), after a telephone call from former Lifeboat Operations Manager Kevin Byers, a volunteer RNLI crew was tasked with rescuing three kayakers in Ballyholme Bay in the vicinity of Ballymacormick Point.
RNLI said that although well equipped with wetsuits and buoyancy jackets, the youngsters had not taken into account the difficulty of paddling against an offshore breeze. The wind was forecast around 40 mph from the South.
An eyewitness said that they could see the kayakers were having difficulty returning to shore in the very strong offshore wind and struggling to make even painstakingly slow progress, and when one of them appeared to stop for a rest, they were blown back very quickly again. She also noticed that the temperature was dropping as the wind and cloud cover increased.
Fortunately, the RNLI were able to return the three teenagers safely to the beach and hand them over to the Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team.
RNLI warn that “ Kayaks and paddleboards are so light and prone to windage that fighting against an offshore breeze can be exhausting and you can quickly find yourself in difficulty. Even with the right safety equipment you can tire quickly”. They advise that it is important to remember these simple rules before you take to the water:
- Check the conditions - water and wind
- Assess your competence if things go wrong
- Make sure you have the right safety gear
- Have some means of calling for help
- Make sure you know how to signal for help if your phone or radio is out of battery or range
And to Parents, “if you are buying a paddleboard or kayak for your child, INSIST that they buy and wear the right safety gear - a LIFEjacket is called that for a reason. And if you are new to the sport, get some training.