Beach safety teams are warning visitors to the seaside to Respect the Water – and that alcohol and the sea do not mix – after a busy half-term week.
The reminder comes after Tendring District Council (TDC) Beach Patrol had to rescue a drunk man who was floating underneath Clacton Pier during the break.
Experienced TDC Beach Patrol member Danny Ayling spotted the man on his back fully clothed drifting under the pier around 50-70metres offshore at 5.55pm on Tuesday 1 June.
Losing sight of him as he went under the structure – which is dangerous to swim under due to hidden objects and strong swirling currents – the team launched a rescue board to find the man.
With Darren Garrod on the board, assisted by Danny and Olivia Whyte on shore, the team found the man after a five minute search midway through the pier.
The crew reported he was extremely intoxicated, freezing cold, and struggling to keep his head above the water, and was fortunate to be on his back.
Recovering the man to shore, he was checked over by a first aider and, apart from being intoxicated, was found to be otherwise unharmed. He was asked to leave the beach area for this own safety.
Alex Porter, TDC Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, said while the Essex Sunshine Coast was a beautiful place to visit – but the sea had to be treated with respect.
“This gentleman has had a lucky escape, and I feel that if our TDC Beach Patrol team had shut at the scheduled time the outcome of this incident could have been so different,” Councillor Porter said.
“TDC Beach Patrol do a fantastic job through the spring and summer to make our coastline and popular beaches as safe as they can be, along with our partners such as the RNLI and the Clacton Volunteer Lifeguards.
“It is pleasing to see our beaches as busy in June as they would be in August. But people must respect the water and consider their own safety; we want to be giving advice, not having to rescue people.”
Due to the number of visitors, TDC Beach Patrol remained on duty an hour later than scheduled each day as people soaked up the sunshine.
In a separate incident at about 3pm on Wednesday, 2 June, TDC Beach Patrol team member Zoe Bates in Brightlingsea helped to rescue two girls who were drifting out to sea on inflatables – one of whom had fallen off.
Zoe used her whistle to alert a nearby sailing boat, who rescued the pair and brought them ashore, meaning Coastguard and lifeboat teams could be stood down. Although shaken, the girls were otherwise unhurt.
Care should always be taken when using inflatables on the coast, where tides, currents and winds can easily blow them out to sea. Inflatables should be tethered to shore and constant vigilance maintained.
Throughout the week TDC Beach Patrol in Clacton, Walton, Frinton, Dovercourt and Brightlingsea carried out minor first aid, helped reunite 11 lost children with their parents, gave beach safety advice and helped enforce the seasonal dog ban on restricted beaches.