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Crocodile 1

A call from a member of the public on the seafront at Deal led to H.M.Coastguard requesting the launch of the Walmer Inshore Lifeboat to rescue two swimmers on Saturday afternoon. The weather was warm and sunny but there was a strong breeze blowing swimmers offshore.

The lifeboat was afloat very quickly as some crew were on the Beach near the Lifeboat Station. The swimmers were quickly found, south of Deal Pier in front of the Port Arms, but too far offshore for them to be able to get back to the Beach. The swimmers were both teenage girls who were clinging to an inflatable crocodile - but there was a third girl in the water nearby. All three were rescued and taken ashore, having been in the water for an hour.

The surprise was that the three girls were not the casualties to be rescued - there were two further swimmers sitting on the steps of the lower deck at the end of Deal Pier. They could not get up the steps because many of the steps are missing. The Pier Warden had thrown a life ring to these two girls which they were holding onto. The lifeboat went under the pier deck to reach the casualties and was able to bring them ashore - making five casualties in total.

Discussions by HM Coastguard staff with the first party rescued suggested that there was a further swimmer seen earlier, but outside the end of the pier. Given the strength of the tide and the wind it was likely that a swimmer would have been carried out to sea in a North Easterly direction, so the larger Walmer lifeboat was launched to join the Inshore Lifeboat in a search. Further discussions suggested that the swimmer had most likely come ashore earlier, probably before the rescues began. No one had been reported missing and the search was called off opposite Sandown Castle.

Nicola Goodban was helmsman of the Inshore Lifeboat that brought the two groups of swimmers ashore and said "These rescues are an example of good teamwork between the Lifeboat crews, the Pier master and H.M. Coastguard. It is unusual to find and rescue more people than you are called out for. If you go swimming with an inflatable toy - make sure you have the ability to get ashore again"

John Turgoose

Walmer Lifeboat Press Officer.


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