Warning as toy dinghy swept out to sea

STERN warnings were issued to beach bathers at Felixstowe today after a father and his young daughter were swept out to sea on a toy dinghy.The drama happened near the pier as strong offshore winds caught hold of the inflatable, whipping it out to sea on the tide.

By Richard Cornwell

STERN warnings were issued to beach bathers at Felixstowe today after a father and his young daughter were swept out to sea on a toy dinghy.

The drama happened near the pier as strong offshore winds caught hold of the inflatable, whipping it out to sea on the tide.

Members of the Felixstowe Volunteer Coast Patrol Rescue Service were on a routine patrol of the bay when they spotted the man and the girl waving frantically for help about half a mile from the beach opposite Pier Bight.

The crew in the Volunteer quickly reached the pair in the toy dinghy and brought them safely back to the shore at 3.30pm on Sunday .

Service chairman John Cresswell said the father said he realised how foolish he had been and how useless their paddles had been in the strong wind.

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Mr Cresswell said: “This was fortunately the first incident concerning an inflatable toy that we have handled so far this season.

“These inflatable dinghies are readily available at the resort and many do have some very basic safety advice instructions given with them or printed on the toy.

“These are only toys and not intended for the open sea - they are easily damaged, may have only one or two buoyancy chambers, and may be taken offshore by the slightest breeze or tides and are not designed to be rowed.

“While able to be a source of great fun if securely tethered to the shore with an adult attending, they can so easily be turned into a deathtrap for youngsters or indeed adults.”

The rescue service also had three other incidents to deal with at the weekend.

On Saturday while off Fagbury Point in the River Orwell, they were waved down by the crew of a sloop concerned for the safety of some colleagues on a sailing dinghy.

The dinghy, which had a torn mainsail, was found off Erwarton in the River Stour with three people on board and taken to Harwich Green.

On Sunday the Volunteer recovered a drifting dinghy in the Orwell, and later was again waved down - this time by the crew of the 30ft sloop Dea Ignota, which was on the Deben Bar and suffering engine trouble and needed to be towed clear of the shallows.

Were you the father and daughter rescued? Contact our Felixstowe Newsdesk on 01394 284109.

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