Barry Dock RNLI dispatch to man in distress near Lavernock Point

AT approximately 9.30am on Boxing Day morning, a lone person had fallen off their rowing craft near the Rannie Buoy off Lavernock Point and was unable to get back on-board. With the rowing craft and casualty now drifting apart, the casualty fortunately had a means of calling for help by using their hand-held radio to send out a distress call.

At the same time having also witnessed the casualty go overboard from their craft, members of the public on the nearby coast and some local fishing boats in the area also raised the alarm.

HM Coastguard paged Barry Dock and Penarth Lifeboat Stations where both volunteer lifeboat crews were immediately mobilised, their Boxing Day festivities with family and friends being interrupted.

The crew from Barry Dock launched their all-weather lifeboat Inner Wheel II and headed in an easterly direction. Penarth launched their inshore Atlantic 85 lifeboat Maureen Lilian and headed west to the approximate incident location to join the search for the casualty alongside the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at St Athan.

The casualty was now in urgent need of help having been in the water for a prolonged period. Local fishing vessels had identified and recovered the rowing craft not far from Lavernock Spit Buoy.

Barry Dock lifeboat crew knew the casualty would be quickly drifting west due to the outgoing tide of the Bristol Channel, and so they calculated the rate of drift and prepared a search pattern to carry out in the estimated location of where the casualty might be.

Having made their calculations, Barry Dock lifeboat crew soon spotted the casualty in the water approximately 1 mile south of Sully Island. The casualty was swiftly recovered to the lifeboat and after confirmation there was no-one else missing, the sole casualty received much needed casualty care by the specially trained crew.

Returning to Barry Dock Lifeboat Station further medical care and checks were carried out by the crew. The Coastguard helicopter landed on Jackson’s Bay (located just next to the lifeboat station), to enable their paramedic on board to give medical assistance.

One of the volunteer crew members from Penarth RNLI, who is a paramedic in their day-job, was then handed over the care of the casualty while awaiting the arrival of an ambulance, to enable the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter to return to St Athan to refuel.

The crew onboard Penarth RNLI’s inshore lifeboat had recovered the rowing craft from a local fishing boat and had brought it back to Barry Harbour.

Andy Gavan, Coxswain at Barry Dock Lifeboat Station said:

‘Rescues like this really stay with you, they remind us why we put so much into our training enabling us to work together as one crew to save lives. Not only alongside our fellow lifeboat crew from Penarth RNLI, but also the other emergency services.

‘Although this casualty was very unwell when we reached them and pulled them out of the water, it is heart-warming to know that they are making a good recovery.

‘This casualty was able to call for help when it mattered most and that undoubtedly contributed to this positive outcome. Our community pulled together and came to the aid of the casualty with members of the public on shore and fishing botas at sea dialling 999 and asking for the Coastguard.

‘Our crew couldn’t launch without kind donations from the public which fund our kit, training and equipment we need to continue to respond to emergencies. Any money donated to the RNLI really does help save lives and reunite loved ones with their family.

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, and enable the charity to continue its lifesaving work, visit:

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Claire Fitzpatrick-Smith, RNLI Regional Communications Manager, on or 07977 728 315,

Alternatively you can contact the RNLI Press Office on or 01202 336789.

You cannot copy any content of this page