Warning about swimming in estuary after pair rescued
Published: 10 June 2021
People have been warned about the dangers of swimming in the Exe Estuary and its approaches after two young women were rescued at the weekend.
The swimmers were rescued after getting into difficulty whilst swimming across the main shipping channel at Exmouth.
Staff from Exeter City Council’s Harbour Patrol Team, assisted by newly appointed volunteers carried out the rescue.
Harbour Master Grahame Forshaw said he was carrying out a patrol on Exmouth seafront with volunteers Mal Browne and Ian Curtis, when they spotted two swimmers trying to clamber up the No 10 Port hand red buoy.
“To get there, the pair had swum across the main shipping channel leading into the river and could easily have been run over by a passing vessel,” said Grahame.
“We turned the boat towards them, told them that they were in a hazardous position and the girls jumped back into the water and started to swim back the way they came. The water is still very cold even at this time of the year and it was clear that the pair were struggling to swim.
“We managed to get the girls to the rear of our patrol boat, lowered the boarding ladder and got them on board. Thankfully both girls were okay once we got them out of the water, even though they were extremely cold. We took them back to the beach on the Exmouth side and they were able to re-join their friends,” added Grahame.
Swimming in or across the channel is extremely hazardous. The water on a spring tide can be moving at over five miles per hour which is far quicker than the average person can swim.
“If you are in the water and in the path of a boat coming towards you, the skipper will not be able to see you until it is too late,” said Grahame. “My advice is to stay in the lifeguard patrolled areas and keep away from the channel.”
Helping out on the water are a new team of volunteers who are able to assist with harbour patrols on the River Exe and approaches. They will be working alongside the harbour patrollers during the summer period. Tasks will include reminding people of the bye laws, checking the navigation channel and helping to keep the river safe.