Three people were rescued from a £40 inflatable dinghy at Brean on Thursday evening (July 25th) as the occupants set out to try and paddle to Steep Holm island.

Two Burnham-On-Sea RNLI lifeboats and Burnham Coastguards were called to Brean beach at around 5.25pm amid concern for the welfare of the three men.

A worried beach walker had raised the alarm after seeing the inflatable drifting several hundred metres off the shore.

The Burnham lifeboat crew managed to guide the inflatable back to the shore where the three scrambled to safety onto the rocks of Brean Down.

A Coastguard spokesman said: “They had entered the water on their £40 boat freshly purchased from the supermarket with the intentions of exploring Steep Holm.”

“The small island looks just a short distance away but is in fact over 3 miles from the tip of Brean Down and around 5 miles from their original starting point.”

“They were spotted by a member of the public who called 999 and reported that they could see 3 persons and a dinghy heading to the water.“

RNLI Helmsman Nick Prout added: “They did not think they were in danger, but were poorly equipped without lifejackets, and in a completely unseaworthy craft.”

“We transported them to the rocks , and two of our crew assisted their passage across the rocks to the waiting Coastguard team on the beach, where no doubt they were given further safety advice.”

“Standard safety advice is always to wear a lifejacket, ensure your craft is seaworthy, and thoroughly investigate local conditions before making to sea. They were very lucky to have been rescued.”

The Coastguard agreed, adding: “Having entered the water, in no time at all they were quickly picked up by the current and were helplessly drifting out and along to the point of Brean Down where they would have been in serious trouble.”

“The lifeboats got alongside the dinghy and they were then taken to the edge of Brean Down where they were met by two of our Coastguard Rescue Officers.”

“With the tide being so far out this was as close as they could get and the safest route back for the would-be sailors.”

“Still full of tales of how they almost made it to Steep Holm – they were nowhere near –  they suddenly realised that they had no shoes and a very long walk across some very harsh rocks carrying their boat.”

“Safety advice was given to them along the way and it slowly became clear to them that their actions had, in fact, put them in serious danger. They assumed they were fine and were in no need of rescuing, but after a few explanations of the type of conditions they were heading into, their lack of any safety equipment and the tides they began to take notice. After a very long and painful walk back to the safety of the sand they thanked us for helping them.”

Dave Welland, Burnham Coastguard Station Officer, added: “The beach warden had spoken to them earlier in the day to give them safety advice and advise them not to go out in the inflatable but they still did.”

“A member of the public rightly raised the alarm and the beach warden did the correct thing in contacting Coastguards. The lifeboats were quickly on scene to reach the inflatable and the BARB hovercraft was on scene as a safety precaution.” 

“People should never use inflatables on the coast – it is easy to get into difficulty and we strongly advise people not to use them.”

“They are designed for inland waterways and swimming pools, not the sea. People can so easily get pulled out to sea on the tide or by offshore winds.”