20th October 2020. This weekend saw Spring Tides - and the high water levels at high tide, and very low levels at low tide resulted in very strong currents near NCI Stone Point.
On Sunday two paddle boarders set off from Lepe Beach around the time of high tide. Once they were some distance off-shore, they were seen to be energetically paddling eastwards but making no progress against the current, which turns westward about one hour before high tide.
The volunteer watchkeepers at NCI Calshot Tower's satellite station at Stone Point in Lepe Country Park were concerned that the paddle boarders would become exhausted and possibly need assistance - especially as the ebb current was still strengthening. They informed Solent Coastguard of their concerns and the RNLI Calshot Lifeboat was tasked to assist.
Meanwhile the paddle boarders had turned back towards Lepe but were now being swept rapidly westwards. Having called Stone Point NCI by radio, Calshot lifeboat was directed to a position west of the East Lepe buoy. With the strong currents preventing them paddling back to Lepe, the paddle boarders accepted a ride back in the lifeboat. On arrival at Lepe Country Park they were met by Coastguards who checked that they were indeed fit and well.
These were experienced paddle boarders, but they hadn't allowed for the strength of the current which, on the large spring tide, was more that twice as strong as it would have been for a neap tide. Indeed, at the time of the incident, the current was rapidly swirling past Stansore Point and rushing over Lepe Spit. On every tide, strong tidal currents occur in the Solent between Lepe and Gurnard, which was one of the reasons for establishing the NCI Station at Stone Point.