Kayaker ‘saved’ after personal beacon sparks rapid response

April 02, 2023

Personal Locator Beacon

An emergency response from multiple agencies ensured he was rescued swiftly having activated his personal locator beacon (PLB).

The man had set off as one of a group of six experienced kayakers, travelling from Poole Bay to Avon Beach on Saturday, March 25.

As the weather conditions worsened, his paddle broke. After becoming separated from the group, he recognised the potential danger in his situation and switched on his beacon at around 10am, which resulted in his quick rescue.

HM Coastguard picked up the signal from the beacon, which works by sending out a GPS signal.

Mudeford RNLI was required to launch and they were able to enter the coordinates from the alarm into their boat’s navigational equipment and tune their radio direction finder into the beacon frequency.

As the lifeboat rounded Hengistbury Head, the National Coastwatch Institution lookout was contacted to assist with a visual search.

The crew reached the search area and at the same time the coastwatch volunteer spotted a kayak. The lifeboat was directed to the rescue location.

Eleven minutes after launching, Mudeford Servant reached the casualty, who was holding onto his kayak.

He was recovered onto the lifeboat, where he was assessed to be cold but otherwise well. After a short sea and land search, RNLI shore crew located the rest of the party safe and well at Avon Beach, where Southbourne Coastguard also attended.

Mudeford Servant helm Ian Parker said: “I believe that, in this case, having the right equipment saved his life.

“From the lifeboat he was only visual from approximately 300 metres due to sea conditions. Not only do PLBs alert the coastguard that someone is in distress, but search and rescue units have the ability to locate them in quick time. This was a great multi-agency effort.”

The casualty said: “The team were amazing; everyone really knew what they are doing. I can’t thank them enough – their speed, efficiency and skill was amazing. The crew was fantastic.”

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