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Walmer Lifeboat assists stranded men at St Margaret's

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Walmer's RNLI inshore D Class Lifeboat was called out at 3.45 p.m. on Sunday, 10th April to help two men cut off by the tide.

Walmer Lifeboat stations D Class Lifeboat, the Duggie Rodbard launched to the aid of two men stranded by the tide on the western headland of St Margaret's bay. Sam Culpin and Dave Mitchell made up the crew with Andy Coe as Helmsman.

The trip round to St Margaret's was fast and bumpy at the D Class top speed of about 25 knots. As we entered the bay conditions became quieter as the easterly sea conditions were partly shielded by the headland to the east. We knew the people were on the western side of the bay, but the expanse of rock and boulder field is sizeable. It did not take long to notice the pair on the Eastern edge of the cliff. They had not noticed that the headland is cut off from the beach far sooner than the rocks around the headland are awash. They were perched on a relatively flat but small area of fresh cliff fall that had carved off the cliff on New Years Day. The cliff above looked particularly unstable. Conditions were calm enough to make a bow-to-cliff approach possible, with the main block being nice and square and not too high up from sea level.

Sam confirmed with them that there were only two people involved. I tested the depth of water for submerged boulders with the blunt end of the oar as we ran in. There were some isolated blocks 2 feet below the surface with a relatively flat surface beneath at a depth of 3 to 4 feet. Enough of a margin for the D Class outboard motor not to clip and damage its propeller. Sam prevented the boat from rubbing up against the main rock outcrop whilst we called the first person forward. Both men were in their early 20's and quite capable of moving down the rock to the boat with only a large step between the lowest point and the boat. I held on to Sam and offered my hand to the first man. He needed no encouragement to get into the boat, but did so in a well controlled manner. Andy was watching out for any larger waves and he called to us that we were heading out, we reassured the other man left on the ledge that we would be back. Wave out the way we went back in again and plucked the last man off in the same manner as before.

A quick trip to the beach were they car was parked took a matter of minutes, passing an elderly swimmer on the way in. Once on the beach we all received a round of applause, much to our surprise, from the families on the beach. Both men safe on the beach with no injuries but a bit damp from wading through some rock pools and perhaps a little embarrassed but grateful. We handed them over to the Langdon Coastguard mobile unit and made our way back to Walmer.

Article by Dave Mitchell, Lifeboat Crewman and Website Administrator.


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