Man clung to last buoy in harbour to avoid being swept out to sea

The Wells RNLI Lifeboat's volunteer crew in action.

The Wells RNLI Lifeboat's volunteer crew in action. - Credit: RNLI/Nathan Williams

A swimmer had a lucky escape when he managed to grab and hold onto a buoy which stopped him being swept out to the open sea.

Lifeboat crews joined HM Coastguard on Monday in response to a report that a man was in difficulty in the channel at Burnham Overy Staithe.

RNLI volunteers from Wells launched at 5.24pm to join Coastguard teams from Wells and Hunstanton, as well as a hovercraft.

The lifeboat arrived 14 minutes later and found the man in trouble, clinging to the last buoy in the outer harbour before the open sea.

They also found the initial caller up to his waist in the water after they tried to rescue the man – but soon realised they were in danger as the tide ebbed and managed to make it to a spit of sand offshore.

Both were rescued by the lifeboat crew and taken back to shore, where they were transferred into the care of the Coastguard team.

Both were uninjured, but the swimmer was exhausted and had been in real danger of being swept out to sea.

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RNLI Lifeboats operations manager Chris Hardy said: "This was a very serious incident and I am very relieved that the volunteer crew responded swiftly to save the man’s life.

"It isn't safe to swim in the channel on an ebbing tide – the current can be extremely strong and even the best of swimmers can find themselves in danger.

"If people see someone in difficulty we urge them not to enter the water to attempt to rescue them, instead they should shout for a lifeguard if there is one nearby, or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard."

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David Powles, EDP editor, said: "Norfolk and Suffolk are blessed with some wonderful places to enjoy water, with miles and miles of stunning coastline and the beautiful Broads.

"However, in recent years there have been several signs that perhaps people are not fully aware of the dangers which can lay beneath and are not fully preparing themselves before going into the water.

"In 2020 we sadly saw several tragedies both on the coast and inland and already this summer there has been one tragic death of a young man.

"We want to spread more awareness to those looking to enjoy our waters and hope this campaign will do just that, plus encouraging shopkeepers and businesses in popular areas to display our specially designed posters."

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