Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Rip Current and Dangers at Rest Bay

Despite our continued safety warnings and safety information on the noticeboard at the lifeguard station we continue to find people getting into difficulties whilst visiting Rest Bay out of patrol hours.

The main issues are happening in the evenings when lifeguards have finished patrolling for the day. So far this summer lifeguards at Rest Bay have been involved in 7 rescues/assistances which have occurred in the evening during out of hour lifeguard training sessions held at the beach. The most recent assist being of a surfer struggling in the strong current at 18.45 on Monday 21st August. The week before 2 girl bodyboarders were assisted at around 18.30 on Tuesday 14th August and a boy struggling in the rip current whilst swimming was assisted at 19.30 on Monday 13th August. These incidents all took place following a recent article / safety message printed in the gazette on Thursday 9th August following evening rescues by off duty lifeguards in the evenings of Monday 8th August and Thursday 26th July.

Club Captain Chris Page is keen to make a safety plea from Rest Bay Lifeguard Club in light of the recent evening rescues which have taken place, 'we strongly urge beach goers to only visit lifeguarded beaches during patrol hours this summer for their own safety. This is particularly important for less experienced surfers, bodyboarders and swimmers and especially those unfamiliar with the dangers at their local beach. 

Lifeguards play a proactive role preventing incidents occurring and zone the beach into different areas to keep people safe. Red and Yellow flags mark the swimming and bodyboarding area which is patrolled by lifeguards whilst black and white flags mark the surfing area for people on surf boards and other hard craft. If you see the red flag flying don't go in the water. At Rest Bay there is a bylaw making bathing prohibited whenever the red flag is flying.

Recent rescues we have performed in the evenings show just how dangerous the beach can be when there are no lifeguards present. The one which occurred on Monday night was on a local boy who you'd hope would be more aware of the dangers at Rest Bay.'
The RNLI produce an excellent beach safety guide with further information on staying safe at the beach: RNLI beach safety guide. To find your nearest lifeguarded beach visit goodbeachguide.co.uk or you can also download the RNLI beach finder app.

The main danger at Rest Bay is found during the incoming and outgoing tide. There is a strong rip current near to the point at the left hand side of the bay as you look out from the lifeguard station. This tends to be stronger on spring tides and whenever there is surf at the beach. The rip occurs due to all the water being pushed into the bay naturally trying to escape. It does this at the edge of the bay running out along the rocks at the point.
We also get a strong lateral current in the direction of town on the incoming tide due to water moving up the Bristol Channel with the incoming tide.

If there are no lifeguards present we would recommend to people going in the sea that they stay on the golf club side of the lifeguard station. Once you get swept around the point by the rip current there is no where to safely get to shore - particularly if there is large surf breaking onto the rocks. The safest thing to do is stay with your board or float on your back and signal for help to people on locks common. Someone will see you in trouble and contact the coastguard who will call the lifeboat. If you see someone in difficulties dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

The image below is specific to Rest Bay and particularly relevant if visiting the beach outside of lifeguarded hours.
When there is large surf or a strong current at Rest Bay inexperienced surfers, body boarders and swimmers may find the conditions at Sandy Bay (Coney Beach) more suited to their ability.

Rest Bay, Sandy Bay, Trecco Bay and Pink Bay are all patrolled by lifeguards during the school summer holidays between 10.30-18.00 Mon to Fri and 10.00-18.00 Sat and Sun.

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