Seahouses man recalls life-saving rescue off the Northumberland coast as lifejacket campaign launched

A Seahouses man has recalled the day he nearly died when his sailing dinghy capsized off the Northumberland coast.

By Ian Smith
Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:15 pm
Julian Crawford helps promote a campaign encouraging boaters to wear lifejackets.
Julian Crawford helps promote a campaign encouraging boaters to wear lifejackets.

Julian Crawford 75, recalled his experience for a campaign launched by the RNLI and Helly Hansen stressing the importance of wearing a lifejacket when out on the water.

He said: “We were the only sailing dinghy out that day and it quickly became apparent that the wind was quite challenging. In no time we were about one mile away from where we’d set off.

"We tried to go about but the wind just completely took us over – we had a complete capsize. I just couldn’t pull myself up and in no time I was separated from the boat and was panicking. I knew we were in real peril then.

"Fortunately I had my VHF marine radio attached to my back and was able to call the coastguard. But during that call the Seahouses lifeboat station heard the call and set about launching the lifeboat.

"The coastguard called a fishing vessel which was in the vicinity which pulled me out of the water and then into the all-weather lifeboat. I was in a very advanced state of hypothermia. They did everything to make sure I was okay and by the time we got back to Seahouses the ambulance was just arriving.

"I take my hat off to the rescue services. I owe them so much. If you’ve got no means to summon help and you haven’t got a lifejacket it would be madness.

"I have been out on the water since the incident. To be out on a suitable sea on a nice, sunny day is a wonderful experience. When you’re on the water it's lovely but when you’re in the sea it’s a different thing altogether.”

The Rescue, Seahouses, by Richard Evans. Picture: Andy Craig.

To help raise awareness, Helly Hansen and the RNLI have been placing lifejackets on statues across the UK, including Seahouses.

Research by Helly Hansen reveals that only around half (56.2%) of UK boaters always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD).

Of those who do not always wear a PFD, only half (50.76%) say they wear one in bad weather, one fifth (22.84%) say they don’t need to wear one because they can swim, and only a third (29.44%) say they wear one if they’re sailing alone.

Every year, around 150 people die at the coast around the UK and Ireland; last year, the RNLI launched over 8,000 times to those in need of help.

The Rescue, Seahouses, by Richard Evans. Picture: Andy Craig.

Gareth Morrison, RNLI head of water safety, said: “Our advice is simple, always wear a lifejacket when you’re on the water, as accidents can and do happen to anyone, regardless of your experience or ability.

"The results in this survey are worrying as they show people are putting their lives at risk, with many thinking the advice to wear a lifejacket doesn’t apply to them.

"Our brave volunteers rescue thousands of people every year, and unfortunately at times witness first-hand the effects that losing someone to drowning has on their loved ones.

"Research has proven that wearing a lifejacket can increase your chances of survival by up to four times if you’re immersed in cold water. Whatever your activity and whatever level of experience you have, wearing a well-fitted, well-maintained and suitable lifejacket or buoyancy aid could save your life.”

Julian Crawford.

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