Surfers reported in difficulty
St Ouens Bay
Incident report from Jersey Coastguard
JCG Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) received a call from the Joint Control informing of a report from a member of public at St Ouens who had been watching two surfers which were struggling in the conditions and appeared unable to make it back to the shore. The eyewitness had been watching the surfers for about 1hr and 20 mins and had lost sight of them due to the fading light about 30 mins prior to calling for help.
Fire and Ambulance control dispatched several units to the scene including Jersey Fire & Rescue D-Class inshore rescue boat. Jersey Coastguard immediately requested the launch of the RNLI Jersey Lifeboat Crews St Helier All weather lifeboat (ALB) and requested St Catherine’s Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) to divert from a training exercise off the NE corner of the island. Watch Officers in the MOC issued a Mayday Relay broadcast.
Whilst Jersey Coastguard were starting the process of formerly requesting a Helicopter from Cross Jobourg the MOC received a response from a Danish Helicopter to assist. Due to Cross Jobourg agreeing the launch of a French Helicopter with FLIR (Forward looking Infra-Red) capability and that the Danish Helicopter not having night search aids, the request of assistance was declined.
St Catherine’s ILB was first water borne asset on scene and begun a close inshore search from L’Etacq southward. During this time Fire Service personnel had begun a shoreline search using searchlights from vantage points North of the last known position of the surfers. Thankfully, the surfers emerged into view and were guided back to the shore by the lights of the Fire Service.
Jersey Coastguard would like to thank Jersey Fire & Rescue for the prompt response and excellent use of resources to assist with the location of these two surfers and to the volunteer RNLI Jersey Lifeboat Crews.
If you are planning to go surfing, please check the time and height of high water and consider whether this will cause an issue for making it back to the shore. Conditions at St Ouens during large spring tide high waters can cause confused swell conditions, with wave action being deflected from the sea wall.
This coupled with fading light makes for very challenging conditions to search for and effect a rescue of potential casualties. If you see someone in trouble at sea or on the coast please don’t hesitate to call for help promptly, particularly in fading light which makes a search more difficult and potentially dangerous.
REMEMBER – If you see someone in trouble in the sea or on the coast, don’t delay, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.