9th January 2017. A kayaker who battled for more than an hour to reach the safety of the shore in the treacherous waters off Hayle has welcomed a new piece of lifesaving kit.
Diane Warren said the waters in the estuary can change extremely quickly, as she discovered last year. Diane, an experienced member of Hayle Kayak Club, said she was hit by "a huge wall of water" as she tried to make her way back to the shore. "I was in the water for probably an hour trying to get out of the flow." she said. "Two people who came to help me also ended up in the water so I made the call to the coastguard and the inshore lifeboat came and got us.
Dianne welcomed the new £6,000 webcam that has given watchkeepers at NCI St Ives station an extra set of eyes to monitor the difficult currents around the approach to Hayle Harbour. She added: "We were invisible because of the surf but this camera would have picked us up within the first couple of minutes."
John Farrell, the St Ives NCI deputy station manager, who also fishes out of Hayle on his boat said: "The channel is the second fastest in the world and we have a tide coming down the eastern shore reaching four knots, sometimes six at its narrowest point. It's quite a vulnerable area with a lot of tidal currents and swell. The dangerous part is when it turns into breaking water but I know now that there is another pair of eyes keeping a watch on me."
NCI station manager Helen Simpson added: "The local kayak club, the fishermen, the harbour master, everybody encouraged us to go ahead with this project. This is not a substitute for a watchkeeper, it is an enhancement to our services. Lifeguard cover is only provided on the beaches between Easter and September so, at this time of year, we are the only eyes along the coast, but now we can zoom in on a surfer, kayaker or paddleboarder and actually see what is happening."
The new webcam was up and running for the busy Christmas and New Year holiday period and John Wilson, the RNLI community safety officer for St Ives Bay, believes that it will help cut the risk of accidents and potential loss of life in the area. He said: "The RNLI initiative is to reduce the life lost by drowning each year by 50 per cent by 2024 and the number of serious incidents which go with it."
The camera installation was made possible through the support of the Riviere Sands Holiday Park on Hayle Towans and a number of other local organisations have also given financial support. Hayle Town Council provided a grant and there were further donations from Asda, St Ives Masons, Diving and EOD Ltd and Skyarte.
Pictured is John Wilson of the RNLI, Hayle Kayak Club's Diane Warren, NCI St Ives Deputy Station Manager John Farrell and Station Manager Helen Simpson (photograph courtesy of Cornwall Live).