Weston-super-Mare lifeboat crews called out three times over Christmas break
DEDICATED lifeboat crews in Weston-super-Mare were called out three times over the Christmas holidays to help people who had run into trouble in the Bristol Channel.
Crews were called out just as many had just sat down to enjoy their festive lunch at 1.30pm on Christmas Day after reports a man had been seen entering the water near Uphill.
Lifesavers rushed to the scene and along with police, the coastguard and the RAF rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor, carried out a search of the area.
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After two hours of scouring the coastline, no one was found and the rescue operation was stood down.
Crews were called out again on December 29 at 10am after a member of the public reported a dinghy drifting out of control at Sand Bay.
But as the lifeboats began to launch but it transpired the dinghy was not out of control and so crews were stood down.
Later that same day the pagers went off again following several 999 calls to the coastguard about a dinghy apparently in trouble near Birnbeck Island.
Weston-super-Mare RNLI operations manager, Pete Holder, said: "To make matters worse the weather forecast was dreadful.
"A gale was due to arrive within a few hours and a small dinghy in the Bristol Channel would have had little chance under such circumstances."
When lifeboat crews arrived at the scene, the dinghy had started its engine and was heading towards Clevedon.
In view of the deteriorating weather both lifeboats chased after the dinghy to find three men on board who had been fishing.
The fishermen had come from Clevedon and were poorly equipped, with only two lifejackets, no flares or navigation lights and no VHF radio.
Mr Holder added: "The lifeboat crews pointed out these problems to the fishermen but they did not seem to understand the danger they were in.
"They refused the help of the lifeboats and insisted on continuing to fish."
Swansea coastguard allowed one on the lifeboats to return to station but kept the other lifeboat standing by the casualty until the fishermen managed to land at five o'clock with the help of Clevedon's coastguard team.
Mr Holder said: "Our role is to save lives at sea.
"We are on call 365 days of the year and will always answer the call if someone is in trouble.'