Three-year spike in sea rescues as boaters get back on the water

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A review of Jersey Coastguard’s and the Vessel Traffic Service’s activities in 2020 says that a sharp increase in leisure boating – after lockdown ended in May – partly caused the number of emergency responses to soar.

Search and rescue vessels and/or aircraft were deployed a total of 348 times. This included occasions when they were stood down shortly after being launched.

Jersey Coastguard co-ordinated a total of 177 incidents, with the most common relating to boats breaking down.

The report said: ‘The month of May saw the biggest spike in incidents for several years and was in part due to the lifting of restrictions for leisure boating with up to six incidents occurring in one day and more the following day.

‘Thankfully, this started to level out as the summer progressed, seeing more regular numbers of incident reports.’

Captain Bill Sadler, Jersey’s Harbourmaster, said: ‘This report once again gives a real insight into the professional work Jersey Coastguard undertakes alongside its partners in the search-and-rescue community to deliver a resilient SAR framework.’

He added that 2020 was a ‘very challenging year’ for the community but water leisure activity appeared to have increased.

‘The work of the entire team continues at pace. As always, I would like to pay tribute to the team at Jersey Coastguard and thank our fellow SAR agencies for their continued support in helping to protect our maritime community.’

Mr Sadler said that six incidents per day was ‘fairly unprecedented’ and that last May saw the biggest spike in reports ‘for at least three years’.

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