Close Calls for Walkers on Wirral Shore

4th, 23rd & 26th October 2015

New Brighton’s hovercraft H-005 Hurley Spirit has been called out three times this month to assist  people have been cut off by the tide on the Wirral shore, two of these have involved dog walkers.

Last night’s incident could easily have ended in tragedy

A man was walking his dog on the sandbank off from the ‘J’ shaped groyne which is out from the raised portion of the promenade not far from the ‘Clown’ roundabout towards the Harrison Drive end on the New Brighton shore. He found himself surrounded by the incoming tide, dropped his phone in the water when picking up his dog and shouted for help. Luckily his cries for help were heard by people on the coast and the emergency services contacted. It was dark and with a hazy full moon, South East wind gusting to 20 knots with slight sea, the 9.9mtr tide was due to reach its height at 10pm, it was less than 2 hours since low water. We received the call out from HM Coastguard at 6:20pm and the hovercraft and lifeboats crews paged. The hovercraft was soon on its way and the lifeboat reached its launch point at New Brighton but was stood down as no longer required.

I understand that the man found himself disorientated but fortunately started wading and swimming after his dog which was heading for shore. He managed to reach the shore as the hovercraft and land based Coastguard teams arrived. He had taken in sea water, was wet and cold and they administered first aid, wrapped him up in thermal blanket while awaiting the ambulance and paramedics.

Time Lapse videos of tide flow in this area – don’t get caught out

Click on link below to see this time lapse video of the incoming tide at this particular point on the New Brighton promenade – it shows how quickly the tide comes in and can catch out the unwary:

A bit further down the promenade after the ‘Clown’ roundabout towards New Brighton – this is another dangerous area see time lapse video covering that area – the two are linked.

Please note the tide covers some area’s of the shore sooner than others, it flows along gullies and swiftly surrounds areas of sand and mud cutting people off from the shore many hours before high tide is reached. The outer sandbanks are covered very quickly once the tide turns, in this case less than 2 hours since low water and 3 hours before high water. The wind and height of tide can all effect the speed it comes in.

*Around half the people who drown never expected to get wet – many get caught out by unexpected slips, trips and falls into the water

*The force of the flow even in shallow water can easily knock you off your feet.

*You can’t see where your feet are going so its easy to stumble over rockRW_Time_Lapse-1143s and into deeper gullies.

*Cold water shock can steal the air from your lungs and leave you helpless.

*The water can be unpredictable, with waves, tides and hidden currents that can drag you out to sea in seconds.

*This gives an idea of what the size of the groynes are in this area.

Click on the link below –  RNLI’s Respect the Water Campaign

23rd October – involved a lady walking her two dogs on sand bank – she ended up in waist deep water and managed to wade ashore and was picked up by the hovercraft by a groyne.

4th October – hovercraft called out to report of people cut off on a sandbank. Hovercraft was launched and arrived on the scene as just as the people managed to safely reach dry land and the waiting HM Coastguard team. Hovercraft returned to base to refuel, wash down etc.

These days there is no excuse for not knowing the tide times

High and low tide times are available via the internet, on this website, apps for smartphones, in booklet form by mail order, sold in some stationers and fishing shops and also the local one is available from New Brighton Lifeboat Station shop at £2 each

Understand the tide times and when its safe to venture onto the sandbanks of this area and just as importantly when to head back!!.

If you see someone in difficulty on trhe shore / sea call 999 and ask for Coastguard

The last thing RNLI crews want is to be called out to a rescue that ends up as a body recovery and I don’t want to have to report on one !!!