A family of four arrived at Lyme Regis from Exmouth to be greeted by rescuers

A family of four that set sail from Exmouth in a Wayfarer dinghy were surprised to find rescuers greeting them as they arrived at Lyme Regis.

The alarm was raised at 11.45 on Monday 1 September, when Exmouth National Coastwatch Institution called to express their concern about a sailing dinghy, with a family of four on board, which had left Exmouth harbour in choppy conditions, but which had not returned. Exmouth Lifeguards then also called with the same concerns, followed by Exmouth Lifeboat.

Portland Coastguard Rescue helicopter was scrambled, Exmouth and Beer Coastguard Rescue Teams were dispatched to begin a shoreline search and Exmouth RNLI all weather and inshore lifeboats and Sidmouth RNLI lifeboat were requested to launch. Exmouth RNLI lifeguards also participated in the search.

Eventually, just as the Lyme Regis RNLI lifeboat was launching, the Lyme Regis harbour master was able to find family contacts and to confirm that the family were experienced sailors who were out for the day on their sailing dinghy. The harbour master then called the Coastguard to inform them that he could see the dinghy coming up onto the beach at about 3.15 pm.

Andy Jenkins, Portland Coastguard Watch Manager says:

I am pleased to say that all of the family (parents and two children aged 4 and 2) are safe and well. The adults, apparently, are experienced sailors and had been unaware of the major search which was ongoing around them. The two Coastguard co-ordination centres worked well together, along with all of the search and rescue resources, to find the missing family.

Although this was a false alarm with good intent, we would still like to encourage members of the public to call us if they have any concerns for people who may not have returned as expected. This family were well prepared for the conditions with protective gear and lifejackets. However accidents do still happen and we often rely upon members of the public to be our eyes and ears on the coast.

When setting to sea in rough conditions, please do make sure that you give details of your communications and passage plan to the Coastguard. This is important when weather conditions are challenging since well meaning members of the public are more likely to raise the alarm. We can then check that you are ok without having to send out search and rescue resources.