Statistics reveal that the number of people rescued by Welsh RNLI lifeboats in 2014 is at its highest since 2006. The RNLI charity has today announced 1,244 people were rescued in 2014 – an eight per cent increase on the previous year.

The busiest lifeboat station in north Wales and the second busiest of all the RNLI’s 30 lifeboat stations in Wales was Rhyl. The volunteer crew launched 61 times and rescued a total of 73 people, compared with 64 in 2013.

Martin Jones, coxswain at Rhyl lifeboat station says ‘Whilst the number of calls for our inshore lifeboat has reduced (mainly because of the below-average summer weather keeping people off the beaches), calls for our All-weather lifeboat have remained high. This is due to the large number of vessels off the Rhyl area, either passing Rhyl, or working on the numerous offshore windfarms. Also, the improved launch access and facilities at Rhyl harbour have seen an increase in the number of people on larger leisure boats using Rhyl as a start point for a day at sea’.

The busiest station in Wales was Porthcawl, with 73 launches.

Nicola Davies, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager says:

‘We are definitely seeing more people out and about visiting the beautiful Welsh coastline, whether to walk the coastal paths or take part in more adventurous activities.

‘Our message to the public has always been to visit the coast as a group, rather than go it alone. It seems our advice is hitting home. Whilst previously people may have chosen to take part in activities alone, they are now thinking twice and considering how going to the coast as a group is far safer. Consequently, more people were rescued than ever before.

‘Instead of attempting to bring themselves to safety, people are recognising the need to dial 999 much quicker and as a result our volunteer crews have been exceptionally busy.’

Of the 1,076 Welsh lifeboat launches in 2014, 584 were to leisure craft and 388 were to people requiring assistance. Machinery failure remains the most popular cause of a lifeboat launch with 230 launches of this nature in 2014. The RNLI advises and encourages people to check their equipment before setting off, especially if it has not been used for long periods.

People becoming cut off by the tide was also a common reason for the launch of a lifeboat, with 130 call-outs to this type of incident during the year.

Nicola Davies adds:

‘The big tides of 2014 coincided with some lovely weather so people ventured to areas they possibly would not have discovered previously. By exploring that little bit further we have seen incidents of people getting cut off by the tide and requiring the help or our RNLI crews. We would encourage people to always check the weather and tides before venturing out.

‘There is still some work to be done in educating people to recognise the dangers, as our role is very much about prevention in addition to saving lives. The coastal safety team are working hard to look at the areas for concern and work on a very local level to identify what the issues are and how we can address them.’

A video compilation of rescues carried out by both of Rhyl’s RNLI lifeboats is available on YouTube and can be downloaded here:

Video footage of Welsh RNLI rescues during 2014 is available to download here: