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Looe RNLI volunteers launch to assist 2 persons cut off by tide at Tregonhawke

RNLI/Ian Foster

With lifeboat crews and coastguard rescue team members encountering difficult sea and cliff conditions on scene, the casualties were safely extracted from the beach by coastguard helicopter.

In an unusual coincidence, two of four Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboats, funded through a legacy gift left to the RNLI by the late Sheila and Dennis Tongue, were launched on service at the same time some 340 miles apart.

Yesterday afternoon, Saturday 24 February 2024, Falmouth Coastguard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre received a 999 call from two people, with two dogs, who were cut off by the tide in a cove at Tregonhawke, Whitsand Bay.

The casualties reported the tide was coming in fast, rapidly covering the beach and there was no safe exit route up the cliff face. When asked about the sea conditions they described large waves breaking close to shore.

After discussing the incident with our duty Launch Authority, Looe RNLI volunteer crew were paged at 2.41 pm and tasked to assess and assist the casualties if possible.

Within 11 minutes the charity’s Atlantic 85 Sheila and Dennis Tongue II and D Class Ollie Naismith II were launched and crews made best speed in poor sea conditions towards the casualties’ location.

Arriving on scene, our crews encountered large wave sets and a heavy shore dump close to the beach. Looe, Tamar and Plymouth Coastguard rescue teams, who had arrived at the cliff top, informed our crews that they could not see the casualties below and a rope rescue down the cliff face would be difficult.

After reporting the sea and cliff conditions back to Falmouth MRCC our helm considered the safest method of extraction would be by helicopter and requested the tasking of a HMCG helicopter.

Rescue 924 was already airborne over the Lizard and was duly tasked, arriving on scene some 14 minutes later. 

Our crews stood by offshore providing safety cover whilst the winchman was dropped onto the beach to assess the casualties. They were then winched to the waiting coastguard rescue teams on the cliff top.

With the casualties safe in the care of the coastguard rescue teams, our lifeboats were stood down to return to station.

Whilst this shout was in progress our Lifeboat Press Officer received a message from his opposite number at RNLI Staithes and Runswick Lifeboat Station.

Staithes and Runswick operate our sister Atlantic 85 Sheila and Dennis Tongue III which was launched on service 20 minutes before her sibling Atlantic 85.

Even though our lifeboat stations are some 340 miles apart, it is very unusual for two of the four lifeboats funded through a legacy left to the RNLI by Sheila and Dennis Tongue to be launched on service at the same time.

The other two Atlantic 85’s funded by their very generous legacy are operated by RNLI colleagues at Sligo Bay ( Sheila and Dennis Tongue ) and Loch Ness ( Sheila and Dennis Tongue IV ) Lifeboat Stations.

Gifts in Wills help give our lifeboat crews everything they need to launch to the rescue and save lives at sea. A gift will help provide lifeboat crews with the kit, training, and lifeboats they need to launch to the rescue. In fact, 6 in every 10 lifeboat launches are only possible thanks to kind legacy gifts.

For more information on leaving a gift in your will please have a look at

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