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Family rescued from drifting dinghy off Sand le Mere

    By Gina Hobbs  

A FAMILY of five had a lucky escape after their inflatable dinghy drifted a mile out to sea off the coast at Sand le Mere.

They were rescued by Withernsea’s RNLI lifeboat the Mary Beal in her first call out since her official naming ceremony earlier this month. It was the third call the RNLI crew had had to go to the aid of an inflatable at sea in just four weeks.

The alarm was raised by a quick-thinking member of the public who saw the small inflatable dinghy caught in the ebb tide drifting out to sea on Wednesday, August 21.

Withernsea’s RNLI lifeboat was launched at 2.40pm as crewman Matt Woodhouse explained: “A member of the public called the incident in and the first reports we had were that there were four people on a lilo. We launched hastily and made best speed with a crew of three, myself, Dan Lythe and John Talbot.”

On the way one of the crew spotted it was actually a small inflatable dinghy with a family of five, two adults and three young children.

“The father was trying to row back to shore with two paddles, but he was rowing against the wind and tide. At the time the tide was going out with low water at 3.10pm. They had no life jackets and the dinghy was full of belongings, bags with towels they’d take to the beach, so it was quite cramped. We took the children off first and put life jackets on them and then the adults. We took them to the beach and left them in the care of the coastguard,” Mr Woodhouse explained.

The crew then returned to retrieve the dinghy which had drifted a further three quarters of a mile out to sea in the space of 20 minutes.

“The family didn’t realise the danger they were in,” said Mr Woodhouse, “Because they had not called us we had to explain it to them. They didn’t understand the conditions, the wind was increasing and the water was choppy. When we returned with the dinghy the father was on the beach and I think it had struck him what a near miss it was.”

Nationally the RNLI has had an unprecedented number of calls to rescue inflatables which have got into difficulty off beaches this summer.

Mr Woodhouse said: “We are asking the public to not bring inflatables to the beach. They should be left at home. Inflatables and the sea don’t mix.”

Withernsea Coastguard spokesperson John Hickey said the family was checked over and given safety advice on using dinghys and inflatables in the water.

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