THE RNLI has had to rescue a number of people from its former home on Birnbeck Island in Weston-super-Mare after they got trapped by incoming tides.
The rescue charity recently abandoned the lifeboat station because of safety concerns about the pier.
On Saturday the coastguard alerted the RNLI that a man and his young daighter wewre trapped on the Island. The Operations Manager Pete Holder went to the site and unlocked the slipway gate to allow them to leave.
Shortly after, while still on the Island, Mr Holder noticed a couple of other people making their way off the Island along the shingle bank causeway.
As these people started to reach the mainland he then noticed two more adults together with two very young children and a dog coming towards the Island along the shingle bank from the mainland,
He hailed them and warned them to turn back as the tide was flooding and would soon start to cover the causeway.
They ignored his warnings and they came across the causeway and up the Lifeboat launch slipway carrying fishing boxes and rods. Once again he gave them a warning about the incoming tide and that as the island and buildings were unsafe they could not stay.
He offered to escort them off the Island via the pier walkway. However they decided to leave the island the way they had come.
Unfortunately the shingle bank towards the shore was now separated by the incoming spring tide. Despite numerous shouts by the Mr Holder and others to stop and turn back these were ignored and the adults then entered the water with the children on their shoulders.
At this point the very experienced Lifeboat Manager phoned Swansea Coastguard to call out the lifeboat crew as he feared there would soon be an immediate threat to life for all four of the family and dog if they didn't turn back.
The people continued to wade through the ever deepening water which was now running at more than 2 knots across the shingle bank. As the Lifeboat Crew arrived at the boathouse the casualties were up to their armpits and struggling to reach the mainland.
As the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, still housed at Birnbeck, was made ready to launch they just managed to reach the mainland. There they were met by the police and coastguard to be warned about their behaviour.
Pete Holder said;’ Birnbeck Island is private and trying to get to it should not be attempted even by the most experienced. Why do you think the lifeboat crews now only use the island in emergencies?
The tides around the island are vicious, will catch you out and can kill. These people today came closer to death than they have ever been.’
A man has been rescued after floating nearly two hundred and fifty metres out to sea on a lilo. The coastguard was called out from Weston Bay after members of the public sounded the alarm. There were concerns the strong tidal current could carry the man further out to sea.
The RNLI has released its call-out figures for last year. Lifeguards helped nearly 12,000 people - that's down nearly two thousand on the previous year. The RNLI's Flood Rescue Team had their busiest year on record though, deploying 6 times in the West Country.