Be careful in the Sea

Sea swimming has been in the news recently after two people tragically died in the seas off Cornwall’s North coast.

A teenage girl trapped beneath a capsized boat and a man who was pulled out of the sea off the Cornwall coast have died, police said.

The girl was with three others who survived after their boat capsized on the Doom Bar near Padstow. In another incident a man is in a serious condition in hospital after being found face down in the water at Porthtowan.

The two deaths were among multiple incidents reported to emergency services over the recent bank holiday.

It comes after the RNLI suspended lifeguard patrols on UK beaches due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The RNLI said it had been dealing with an increased number of call outs and urged people to follow safety advice “if people chose to go into the water”.

In a statement, it said: “We continue to do what we can to get a lifeguard service up and running as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, beach and pool lifeguards and surfers have joined together and formed a voluntary rescue band to prevent further tragedy. Tim Whitfield, an experienced lifeguard and surfer in St.Ives said

Volunteer lifeguard " Big John Nav"
“Big John Nav” , one of St.Ives volunteer lifeguards

“Imagine being a fireman- you wouldn’t stand outside while the building burnt down would you?”

In another incident a man is in a serious condition in hospital after being found face down in the water at Porthtowan.

Steve England, from surf magazine Carve, who was surfing, said he and others gave the man CPR and pulled him out of the water while waiting for the coastguard helicopter and a lifeboat to arrive.

“If we had a RNLI lifeguard service on the beach we would have got oxygen to the casualty within two minutes but we had to wait 20 minutes,” he said.

Other incidents were reported including at other locations such as one where a number of surfers struggled in a rip current and two kayakers got into difficulty .

The chairman of the RNLI in Poole, Stuart Popham, has now announced the start of paid lifeguard cover on some beaches, “extremely challenging circumstances have delayed the normal roll-out of the RNLI service”

“We were on 18 beaches this weekend, 8 in Cornwall, and we will continue to work on this plan until as many beaches as possible”.

Local residents in Cornwall have started a fund raising campaign to support the lifeguards left unemployed by the RNLI. ” I think its’ outrageous that these brave people have been left high and dry by one of the richest charities. They stayed fit and trained all winter to be ready for the summer and could have been used in so many positive ways during the pandemic” said one of the fundraisers.

Researchers from University of Exeter University Medical School have release a major study of the possible dangers of sea swimming.

People who swim, bathe or take part in water sports in the sea are substantially more likely to experience stomach bugs, ear aches and other types of illness.

The results demonstrated that sea bathing doubled the odds of reporting general ear ailments, and the odds of reporting earache specifically rose by 77%. For gastrointestinal illnesses, the odds increased by 29%.

Dr Will Gaze, of the University of Exeter Medical School, supervised the research. He said:” …… it is important that people are aware of the risks so they can make informed decisions. Although most people will recover from infections with no medical treatment, they can prove more serious for vulnerable people, such as the very old or very young, or those with pre-existing health conditions. We have come a long way in terms of cleaning up our waters, but our evidence shows there is still work to be done. We hope this research will contribute to further efforts to clean up our coastal waters.”

Surfers against Sewage continue to campaign for more transparency from the Water Authorities not least Southern Water, who have been in the headlines recently, fined for repeatedly breaching Environment Agency standards.

Meanwhile Shirley Pool continues to prepare for reopening.

“ The pools are looking fantastic just now and we are working hard to be ready when it is safe “ said Pool boss Luke Perry , “We have upgraded the plant room and installed the latest in Ultra violet cleaning. UV is fast and efficient – destroying bacteria, algae, and viruses within two seconds when passing through the chamber.” Read the story so far.

Shirley swimmer Chris Cole is fully aware of the dangers of the sea. However, he is still hoping to complete his solo channel swim this summer, despite the Covid pandemic. Read more…