June 30 + July 2nd: Incidents!

(photo: Gosport And Fareham Inshore Rescue Service)

On Friday 30th June I did a double watch, 12-15 hrs. and then 15-18 hrs.  The first watch passed peacefully, even to the extent that at 15:00 the new watchkeeper suggested I could go home if I wished.  However I stayed on and we were mainly watching a few kite-surfers.  One of the latter was doing a few jumps and I had noticed how quickly he recovered from the water on occasions when his landing went wrong.

Then, after one jump, we saw him waving to someone on shore.  It did not look like he was in trouble, however he then used his kite to bring him back to the shallow water while sitting on his board.  To me that looked like a self-rescue technique.  When he stood in the shallows just to the west of the Spit and was waving again I decided he had a problem and decided to go down to the beach.  By the time I got there a woman was wading out to him and a fellow kite surfer was dealing with his kite.  I waded out to him and found he had broken his leg on landing from his last jump.  With the woman on his other side, we helped to support him on his one leg to get back from the shallows to the beach.

I radioed to the Station for a 999 call to ambulance and to the Coastguard, also to contact the Park Office, however, being just past 16:00, the latter was closed.  When I tried to contact the station again to check progress my call was unreadable.  Possibly the UHF radio had not been properly charged.  I jogged back to the station (as fast as I can go nowadays!) and then returned to the casualty at which point the IoW ambulance service (sic!) rang my phone and talked to the casualty.

It was apparent that the ambulance would not appear for at least an hour and probably much more, so two of the kite surfers carried the casualty back to the car park and the casualty was driven to hospital privately.  The Coastguard said they would turn off the ambulance call.  Having got wet clothes to about my knee level, I must admit I left the station about 30 minutes early!

I was also doing a double watch on Sunday 2nd July, this time 09-12 hrs. and 12-15 hrs.  The wind was increasing and, during the second watch interval, we saw a windsurfer apparently unable to raise his sail from the water.  He was about as far out as the Cardinal Mark and a short distance to the west.  We watched him attempt and fail a few times and a wind-surfer went out and talked to him. I called the Coastguard and gave them a lat/long position obtained by my fellow watchkeeper, an active yachtsman.  He then went down to talk to the local wind-surfers who were on the beach and they confirmed, that he did need help.

We then heard the CG put out a pan-pan for any vessels “in the vicinity of Gurnard Ledge”!  Gosport lifeboat who had recently done an “ops-normal” report from near Cowes Harbour, responded and were tasked by the CG.  We now gave the CG an updated lat/long position, which was near the yellow Beaulieu River entrance buoy since he was rapidly drifting west, and for once the CG passed the new position to the LB straight away.  As the LB neared the scene they called us on ch.65 and we directed them to turn north towards the casualty.  Then we were called by the CG on ch.0 so at one point I was working on UHF, and VHF ch.65 and ch.0 …and NCI think we can enter everything in the logbook just as it happens!

Perhaps given confidence by the lifeboat arriving, the casualty finally managed to get his sail up and sailed to shore near the Blackwater river outflow, which is hard to see from the station except on the camera.  Then what looked like the same wind-surfer went back out and talked to the LB.  This caused confusion until my fellow watchkeeper managed to confirm that he had talked to the casualty in the beach car park, having been brought back by his friend.  We were then able to confirm to the CG that the casualty was definitely safe and both Gosport LB and Cowes LB (which had appeared on the scene) could be stood down.  Gosport LB contacted us on ch.65 and thanked us for our help.

Two incidents over one weekend, I’m worried I might be emulating one of our senior watchkeepers who is famous for his incidents!