VOLUNTEERS from Lyme Regis coastguard and lifeboat crews had a busy weekend.
Emergency services were scrambled on Sunday, February 17 to reports of four adults, a child and a dog cut off by the tide at St Gabriel’s, east of Charmouth.
The group had been out walking but were unable to return to Charmouth due to the state of the tide, which had cut them off at both the Charmouth and Golden Cap ends with the tide continuing to rise.
Coastguard teams from both Lyme Regis and West Bay were called to the scene at 4pm, as well as Lyme Regis lifeboat crew.
The lifeboat crew, on their first emergency call of 2019, managed to locate the group and passed their location back to the coastguards, but the sea state was too rough for the Lifeboat to beach and pick up the group.
Arriving at St Gabriel’s, coastguard officers from both West Bay and Lyme Regis assessed the area, but due to the cliff steps being out of operation because of storm damage, and with no safe access points to the beach via cliff path or rope rescue, a coastguard helicopter was requested to attend the scene and evacuate the group.
Dog falls over cliff edge
This was the second emergency call of the day for the West Bay team, who had been paged regarding concern for a person’s welfare at East Cliff, West Bay, early that morning, which was quickly resolved.
While waiting for the helicopter to arrive at St Gabriel’s, the West Bay team were called for the third time that day to reports of a dog over the cliff east of Seatown.
After finishing in Charmouth, Lyme Regis coastguards joined them on the scene in Seatown, along with Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Service and their Technical Ropes Rescue Team.
The rescue proved difficult, with the dog running away on mid-cliff level every time an officer approached
The coastguard teams set up a full rope rescue system a little further up the cliff and deployed its own cliff technician to try and box the dog in, and force it back towards the fire service.
After a long period of coaxing, the dog finally accepted defeat and was safely captured and returned back to the top of the cliff.
Man trapped in mud
The previous day – Saturday, February 17 – both Lyme Regis and West Bay coastguards were called to help a 70-year-old man stuck in mud under Black Ven, to the west of Charmouth.
The man had been fossil hunting when he became trapped and was spotted by passers-by who alerted the coastguard.
Officers quickly located the man who had been trapped for about 90 minutes. Due to the amount of time the man had been trapped, an ambulance was also requested to attend the scene.
A spokesperson for the coastguard said: “While it might be tempting to go fossil hunting on the mud flows, coastguard advice remains very clear. Do not put yourself at risk by investigating the muddy area’s as you could easily become stuck. This man became trapped just a few meters from safety.
“If you do become stuck in the mud then remain calm and keep as still as you can. Don’t struggle as this could make the situation worse. Spread your weight as much as possible and discourage others from attempting to rescue you.
“Alert the coastguard via 999 who will send a specially trained Mud Rescue Team.”
Following the rescue, coastguards recovered some of the man’s personal possessions and they are now trying to track down the man so they can be returned.
Coastguards believe the man was staying in Lyme Regis this week, so if anyone knows of his whereabouts, he is asked to call 02392 552 100 quoting incident reference number 3259.
Lifeboat crew say goodbye to Irene
Also on Saturday, Lyme Regis lifeboat was launched for a special ceremony to remember Irene Roper, former chairman of the Lyme Regis and Charmouth RNLI Guild, and to spread her ashes at sea.
A spokesperson for the lifeboat crew said it was a “huge honour and privilege for the crew to carry out this duty”.