RNLI makes boat safety plea

The region's boat owners were urged to 'not cut corners' over the safety of their vessels, as the latest lifeboat rescue figures told the story of a quieter year for our rescue heroes.

Despite a downturn in the number of launches and rescues in East Anglia in 2011, lifeboat chiefs said one-fifth of incidents were down to boat machinery failure.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) published its annual launch and rescue figures, including those for the nine RNLI boats from Hunstanton to Southwold. They showed that while the boats launched 192 times during the year (193 in 2010), the number of people rescued fell from 297 to 172.

The downward curve was mirrored across the whole of East Anglia, where in 2011 there were 601 launches and 600 people rescued, compared with 632 and 782 respectively in the previous year.

RNLI east deputy divisional inspector Michael Oakes said: 'It is a sobering thought that nearly one-fifth of our lifeboat launches are down to machinery failure which is why we urge all boat users to ensure their vessels are maintained properly and not to cut corners with safety.'

The RNLI also revealed that its lifeguards in north Norfolk dealt with 348 incidents and helped 367 in 2011, while those at Great Yarmouth dealt with 100 incidents and helped 103 people.

Among the most dramatic incidents was in June when a lifeguard based at Sea Palling spotted a boy through his binoculars out of his depth and in grave danger of drowning. The lifeguard grabbed his rescue tube and went to his aid.

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Then in July, Cromer lifeguards were called to four incidents of people jumping off the pier for fun – tombstoning – again saving lives.

Across the UK and Ireland, lifeboats had a busy year as they launched 8,905 times in 2011, rescuing 7,976 people (22 every day).

steve.downes@archant.co.uk

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