When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
Fishermen join fight to save Portland Coastguard helicopter
FISHERMEN are throwing their weight behind the fight to save the Portland Coastguard helicopter.
Angler Darren Lee had a shock when a tall wave knocked him overboard during a fishing trip in Lyme Bay last week.
Although the angler had been wearing a flotation suit, the party struggled to pull him back onto the boat, Channel Warrior.
Mr Lee said: “It was incredibly scary to find myself in the cold water, it all happened so quickly.
“But it was a struggle to get back on board as I hadn’t fitted the leg straps on the floatation suit properly.”
Skipper Stephen Wake has praised rescue teams for their swift arrival and labelled the coastguard helicopter a ‘vital service’.
Angler Ray Barker, who was on the boat, also backed the call to save the aircraft.
Mr Wake said: “One of our party lost his balance and went overboard.
“We were unable to pull him out so we had to lean over and keep him next to the boat.
“I called for the coastguard and they arrived so quickly.
“By the time they got to us we had managed to get him back onto the boat. They checked him over and airlifted him to hospital.”
He added: “The Portland coastguard helicopter is a vital service for saving lives and we should all fight to keep it.
“Without the swift arrival of coastguards or the fact that he had been wearing a flotation suit, it could have been a fatal accident.”
The overboard angler is urging other seafarers to buy and wear quality safety gear. He said: “I will never head out to sea without a floatation suit fitted properly or a lifejacket on again, it’s just not worth the risk.
“I count myself very lucky, but in future I will be doing everything I can to keep myself safe. I would encourage everyone else to do the same.”
Mr Baker, 68, who was part of a group from Somerset on the vessel, helped pull the man back to the boat.
He said: “It could have been far more serious. I can’t praise the helicopter enough. If the helicopter had to come from RNAS Culdrose I don’t know what would have happened.”
A spokesman for Portland Coastguard said: “This story has a happy ending in no small part due to the fact that the casualty was wearing a flotation suit as were the rest of the angling party that he was a member of.”
The skipper said he will now buy more safety gear to put onboard his 12-passenger vessel moored in West Bay.
Sign The Petition
THE Portland Coastguard station is threatened with closure in 2013/4, while the helicopter faces the axe in 2017. To sign the epetition to save the Portland coastguard helicopter go online to epetitions.direct.gov.uk/36619