Dinghy duo in lucky rescue off Fleetwood

David Croall, pictured at Fleetwood Marina, rescued two men in a rubber dinghy.
David Croall, pictured at Fleetwood Marina, rescued two men in a rubber dinghy.

Two men in a tiny rubber dinghy had to be plucked to safety off Fleetwood by a man in a motor cruiser after a fishing trip went wrong.

And the episode has led emergency services to issue a warning to anyone considering even a short journey out to sea.

The father and son had decided to go fishing just off the coast and set off from Cleveleys beach in the craft, no more than six feet long.

But when the vessel neared the King’s Scar sandbank, the anchor rope got caught in the engine and the motor packed in.

When the men decided to cut the rope, they started to drift out to sea and became desperate.

With no power, radio or even a mobile phone and a small, low-lying vessel which could not be easily spotted, the men were in real trouble.

But they were saved by the keen eyes of Fleetwood Coastwatch volunteers and the fortunate coincidence that motor boat owner David Croall just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

And they were doubly lucky in that the design of his craft allowed them to clamber on board easily.

Fleetwood Coastwatch spokesman Stuart McGregor said: “These two men really had a lucky break and should not have even attempted to go out in a small rubber dinghy like that.

“They did not have any means of communication on them and when they got into difficulties, their situation became perilous.

“If they hadn’t been spotted when they were, it could have been a potentially life-threatening situation.”

The drama began when a Coastwatch volunteer spotted with his binoculars what appeared to be someone waving in the water, about two and a half miles out to sea.

When David contacted them for a radio check before taking a short trip in his boat, they knew he was close by and asked him to take a look.

Meanwhile, the emergency services were informed and Coastguards radioed David to check it out while they alerted Fleetwood Lifeboat.

It was pure coincidence that 64 year old David, from Lytham, had decided to take his 30 foot motor cruiser Island Spirit out fora short spin.

The experienced boatman, also a member of Fleetwood Coastwatch, said: “I had just contacted the Coastwatch for a routine radio check, to make sure my radio was working and to gauge the weather conditions.

“A couple of minutes later they phoned me back and asked me to take a look at something they’d spotted.

“I saw a tiny dot in the distance but when I got close I could see this little dinghy.

“The teenage boy was white as a sheet and his dad was soaking wet and had a gash to his head - he’s been trying to pull the boat to shore and had hurt himself.

“Trying to get someone onto a boat from the sea is not easy because boats are quite high in the water.

“But by luck my boat has a low-lying bathing platform and they were able to clamber aboard.

“They were very happy to see me.

“Once I’d got them I felt a warm glow of relief but before that I was very worried, to be honest.

“I took them back to the marina and the Coastguard shore lads checked them out.”

Stuart said: “We would just reiterate the message that if people do go out on a fishing trip, it would be a good idea to contact ourselves or the Coastguards and check on the weather conditions.

“And always life jackets and have some means of communication in case you have problems.

“This situation could have had a less fortunate outcome.”

Coastwatch can be contacted on (01253) 870618.