Surfers hauled up cliffs to safety

Contributed by editor on Nov 10, 2007 - 10:44 PM

Rescue teams where scrambled to save three stranded wind surfers during yesterday's tidal surge (9 November) which hit the East coast of Kent.

The surfers were clinging to rocks on the cliff face in Joss Bay, Broadstairs, during the storm surge.

Dover Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) sent Margate Coastguard Rescue Team and Ramsgate Inshore and All Weather Lifeboats to the scene. Police Helicopter QH99 was also scrambled to the bay to assist.

The weather at the time of the incident was described as force six winds, with large waves and lots of spray. When the lifeboats arrived on the scene it became apparent that these strong winds had forced not one but three stranded surfers onto the rocks.

Because of the rough tides in the bay, the lifeboats were unable to safely reach the surfers. The Police helicopter was not equipped to lift the surfers from the cliffs and so provided an invaluable surveillance role in the incident, also using its tannoy to warn surfers of the dangers in the area and keep them clear of the beach.

Deal and Margate Cliff Coastguard Rescue Teams were rushed to the cliffs to help in the rescue and brought two of the casualties safely to the top of the cliffs. The third casualty was able to walk around the cliffs back to shore.

Luckily all of the surfers are said to be safe and well and did not require medical assistance.

Pete Legg, Senior Watch Manager at Dover Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre said: "Due to the nature of the sport moderate offshore winds are ideal weather conditions for surfers and Joss Bay is a popular location for this. What we would advise however is that surfers check the weather conditions before they go out, and always stay within their comfort zones and capabilities.

"On this occasion the sea was too rough even for the lifeboat to make a rescue, and we were lucky that there were not injuries sustained in this incident as the rocks can be very treacherous. The member of the public who made the 999 call was absolutely right to do so as the surfers were in need of rescue and we would advise anyone who sees anything similar or gets into trouble on the water to do the same; dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard."