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Sea Rescue Operation Saves Paddleboarders Adrift off Dorset Coast

A Father and Son's Perilous Paddleboarding Misadventure

A significant sea rescue operation was mobilised after a father and son duo, engaged in paddleboarding got into difficulties and were reported missing off the Dorset coast. The incident, which occurred around 3.00pm on Monday, led to an extensive six-hour search across both air and sea involving multiple agencies.

The father was eventually located by HM Coastguard almost four miles (5.8 km) south of Old Harry Rocks at 19:40. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, suffering from hypothermia, after being adrift at sea for a significant amount of time. His teenage son was found two hours later in the vicinity of Bournemouth Pier, a location considerably distanced from the initial paddling route. According to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the father and son were “incredibly lucky” to be found and rescued given the circumstances.

Joint Effort by Multiple Rescue Agencies

The intensive search operation brought together various emergency services. HM Coastguard and police helicopters scanned the sea from the skies, while police, coastal rescue teams, and lifeboats from Swanage, Poole, Yarmouth, Lymington, and Mudeford conducted extensive ground and sea searches. 

The pair had embarked on their paddleboarding journey from Studland, intending to go around Old Harry Rocks to Swanage. The alarm was raised by another family member after they didn’t arrive at their destination. The father was eventually located by the Yarmouth Lifeboat and was promptly evacuated by air. Despite the fading light, the search continued for his son, whose paddleboard was later discovered ashore at Hengistbury Head. He was ultimately located near Bournemouth Pier.

Safety Precautions for Paddleboarders

This incident underscores the importance of safety precautions when venturing out to sea, particularly for paddleboarders. Understanding sea conditions, wearing appropriate flotation devices, maintaining a safe distance from the shore, ensuring a form of communication, and notifying others of one’s route and expected return time are crucial aspects of safe paddleboarding.

Rising Popularity of Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding has witnessed a surge in popularity in recent years, becoming a favoured water sport for many. As this sport continues to grow in popularity, incidents like these underscore the importance of safety measures, adequate training, and the awareness of potential risks associated with paddleboarding at sea.

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