Thursday, 25 August 2011

For whom the 'Bells' toll

Inspired by my efforts on the Menai Challenge the previous evening and despite my early start (I was on the road to Runcorn at 06:15 to collect more stock), I got a message from Baggy, did I fancy North Stack this evening. I did, so wheels were set in motion.

By 16:30 that afternoon, I was in two minds, feeling a bit tired, busy on the phone all afternoon and dealing with folk who were collecting boats. However, Baggy arrived just after 17:00 and it would have been rude to cry off.

So we loaded up, Ben was going to try out the NEW Delphin 150 from    P & H , I was going to take out the Xtreme from Tiderace, Baggy was planning to try the Romany Surf from SKUK , but unfortunately I'd been to busy to get one in time, so he had to 'make do' with an Xcite. He wasn't disappointed.

After much faffing (phone kept ringing, people kept calling in it's the curse of being an owner/operator, you don't just clock off  and lock the door) we eventually made our way to Soldiers Point and got on the water.

The Stena Seacat was just coming in, so as we left the bay we caught it's wake and things were a little lumpy. The wind was F4, south westerly and blowing steadily as we came out, so we headed across to the cliffs to get a little more shelter.

As we paddled out the combination of the amount of time I've spent in work recently, combined with my late night and early start began to take their toll and I really wasn't feeling it. I decided to become the official photographer for the evening and get some shots of Ben & Baggy, whooping it up (and Baggy was as he found the Xcite Xciting and fun to surf).
(I need to invest in a longer lens).

The guys came into the eddy I'd been sat in snapping away in, Baggy practised his rolls and his self-rescue techniques for a little while and we became aware of some noise, which I'd attributed to a seal on the other side of the eddy, but it was a little more human sounding than that. We looked around and spotted an unnatural colour and shaped object about 70 feet above us on the cliff. After a minute or two we decided it was a person and they weren't responding to our calls. Baggy climbed up the relatively easy ground to the left to check on the casualty. I spotted something bobbing in the water directly below the casualty, it was there along with some tufts of grass that had been dislodged, as I got closer I realised it was a bottle. A bottle of Bells, almost empty, despite being in the sea.

I shouted this to Baggy, who approached the casualty and got a response asking him to "Go away".

We decided that the best course of action was to call the Coastguard & get the cliff rescue team to secure him and escort him to somewhere safer.

The Inshore Lifeboat was the first on the scene, and shortly after it arrived as the saying goes, we made our excuses and left. We didn't need to be there, we couldn't offer any further assistance all we would achieve was getting in the way and paddling back to Soldiers Point in even less light. We don't know whether he had a headache this morning, but it's logged on the RNLI site report 27.

It was dark when we landed, a quick call into the Coastguard to let them know we were safe and then calls home to wives were made as they were aware of another more serious & tragic incident being reported about a search elsewhere on the island.

I hope that in some small way our actions prevented the incident we were involved in from having a similar tragic outcome and would like to offer my condolences to the friends and family of the two men missing in the Cable Bay incident.

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