Meanwhile, the charity’s dedicated lifeguards attended 19,594 incidents, rescuing 1,567 people and saving 100 lives.
During the coldest spring since 1962, the hottest summer for seven years and the windiest December since 1993* the RNLI launched a lifeboat, on average, 23 times a day.
The busiest lifeboat station was Tower on the River Thames which launched 492 times, while the busiest coastal station was Southend-on-Sea, which launched its lifeboats and rescue hovercraft 142 times. Half of all launches were to pleasure boats** (4,160 launches) while the most common cause for lifeboat call-outs was to boats with machinery failure (1,596 launches).
George Rawlinson, Operations Director for the RNLI said: ‘Whether it is hot and sunny or wet and windy, we want people to enjoy the sea and stay safe. It’s important to respect the water when visiting the coast and we’re asking people to follow some simple safety tips:
‘Always check tide times before taking to the water or walking along exposed coastlines. Avoid areas where you could get swept off your feet in stormy weather and, if you’re visiting the seaside, remember to go to a lifeguarded beach.’
Some of the most notable rescues of 2013 include:
- Thirty people were rescued from the sinking tall ship Astrid by lifeboats from Kinsale and Courtmacsherry in July. The ship was driven onto rocks off the south coast of Ireland and started taking on water. Watch the rescue here.
- As St Jude's storm hit the UK in October, Newhaven lifeboat was called out to search for a teenager who had been washed out to sea in the storm. Sadly he was not found. You can watch footage from the search here.
- As the stormy weather continued into December, the RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team (FRT) prepared to help should they be needed. The Welsh FRT rescued 25 people trapped in their homes by rising flooding waters in North Wales in December. Read more here.
- Crew from Aith and Lerwick lifeboat stations in Shetland launched when a helicopter crashed into the North Sea in August. Tragically, four people died in the crash but 14 were rescued. Read more here.
- RNLI lifeguards in Croyde rescued 44 people over the busy August bank holiday weekend. Over 100 people were rescued that weekend in Devon and Cornwall alone. Watch some of the rescues here.
- Three young girls clinging to marker buoys in a bid to stay afloat after drifting out of their depth off the coast of Norfolk were rescued by the rescue hovercraft from Hunstanton lifeboat station. The crew pulled the girls out of the water and took them back to shore safely. All three were distressed but unharmed. You can watch the video here.
In an unusual twist, the start and end of 2013 involved dog rescues; one on New Year’s Day and another just before Christmas 12 months later. Fortunately for Beau the dog, volunteers from Swanage lifeboat were at the ready to rescue her when she ran off cliffs chasing a seagull. Towards the end of the year, Quila the Labrador was rescued by the volunteer crew at Happisburgh. The pup had gone for a swim and been washed out by the tide. Watch Beau’s rescuers in action here and Quila’s here.
Reflecting on a busy year, George adds: ‘It’s been another challenging year for the RNLI and the figures show the dedication of our volunteer crew, lifeguards and flood rescue teams. But they couldn’t do their lifesaving work without the support of their families and employers who release them from work or family commitments to save lives at sea.
‘As a charity, we also rely on the incredible generosity of the public and I would like to say a huge “thank you” to all those who support the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.’
Whatever challenges next year's weather brings, RNLI crews and lifeguards will remain dedicated to the cause of saving lives at sea regardless of what Mother Nature throws at them.
*MET office statistics
** Leisure boats include powerboats, yachts, kayaks, surfers, paddle boarders, body boarders, tenders (without outboards).
Notes to editors:
• For photos and videos, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
• Out of the 8,304 lifeboat launches:
o 270 were to commercial or MOD boats
o 517 were to fishing boats
o 667 were to manual leisure craft
o 1,690 were to people ashore
o 1,028 were to people in the water
o 1,920 were to power pleasure craft
o 15,73 were to sail pleasure craft
o 639 were to miscellaneous
RNLI lifeboats launched 8,304 times
RNLI lifeboats rescued 8,384 people
RNLI lifeboats spent 3,069 hours on service in darkness
RNLI lifeboats launched 124 times into winds above force 7
RNLI volunteer crew spent 213,721 hours spent at sea on service/exercise
1,596 launches were to machinery failure - the single biggest cause of incidents
116 launches to animals (92 to dogs, 5 to sheep and 6 to whales)
RNLI lifeguards attended 19,594 incidents
RNLI lifeguards helped 23,505 people including saving 100 lives
17.7M estimated beach users
Perranporth was the busiest beach with 872 incidents
1 deployment – Wales, December 2013
• For interviewees, photos and videos, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Kirsti Pawlowski, RNLI Public Relations Officer on 01202 663510 or firstname.lastname@example.org