Report from HAPPISBURGH COASTWATCH
On Tuesday 30th August 2016, our duty Watch Keeper was observing a large number of visitors on the beach and became concerned about a small inflatable dinghy which had been launched off the beach with one person on board. The time and location of the launch was logged, and the Watch person noted that he thought it too small to go out to sea. The inflatable was observed travelling offshore quite a distance off Sea Palling so regular checks were made of its progress and position using the HCW telescope. After a short while, the dinghy moved nearer to shore and seemed to be in safer, shallow, water.
The Watch Keeper was also observing children climbing on groynes and was unable to monitor the dinghy continuously. However, on returning to the telescope he noticed that the dinghy had turned over and was moving out into deeper water. Unable to see the person on board, he immediately assessed the situation as potentially critical, and notified the Coastguard of what had happened, giving them details of the last known location of the dinghy at 15:37h.
The HCW Watch Keeper continued to closely monitor the area using both telescope and binoculars to see if anyone could be seen in the water. The RNLI lifeboats were launched and the area searched for several hours. The dinghy was recovered, but no persons or casualties were found.
Once again, this reinforces the need to have a constant, vigilant, observation post on the coast, which can alert HM Coastguard as soon as a potentially dangerous incident is spotted. Happisburgh CoastWatch has a team of around 25 volunteers giving up their time to keep the look-out at Cart Gap open from 9am-6pm April-September, and from 10am-5pm October-March.
From their vantage point they can maintain Watch over 2 miles of coast line, from Happisburgh to Sea Palling, and out to sea, over the dangerous Haisbro Sands, for up to 10 miles.