DORSET'S lifesavers had a busy 2013 as a range of extreme weather hit the county.
Weymouth's lifeboat station was the third busiest in the South West and Dorset's beach lifeguards helped more people than ever before.
The figures released today by the RNLI show that last year the South West's lifeboat crews launched 1,449 times, rescuing 1,450 people and saving 34 lives. The charity's lifeguards reported their busiest year since the service was launched in 2001, attending 13,390 incidents, assisting 14,802 people and saving 56 lives during the summer of 2013.
Last year was a year of extreme weather, with the Met Office recording the coldest spring since 1962, the hottest summer for seven years and the windiest December since 1963.
Weymouth lifeboat station had 82 shouts and was joint third busiest station in the South West together with Torbay.
Weymouth volunteer crews launched the All Weather Lifeboat 30 times and the Inshore Lifeboat 52 times. They assisted 89 people, spent 673 hours at sea, undertaking 34 operations in the dark.
This is compared to 2012 where they were called out 86 times and assisted 88 people.
Ken Francis, spokesman for Weymouth lifeboat said: “We continue to be one of the busiest lifeboat stations in the South West.”
He said the crews had saved two lives in the year: one when they were called to a person in the water at the entrance to Weymouth Harbour back in January 2013 and in October, when they helped a lone yachtsman.
The inshore lifeboat dealt with a mixture of incidents including commercial boats and pleasure craft, kayakers, paddle boarders, windsurfers and kite surfers in difficulty and missing divers, Mr Francis said. While the All Weather boat had dealt with commercial boats and yachts in difficulty.
Mr Francis paid tribute to the volunteer crews and the beach lifeguards at Weymouth and Greenhill and said they all did a 'fantastic job.'
He added that Lifeboat Week would be from July 27-August 2 this year.
He said: “We want to thank all the people in the community that have supported us with fundraising and donations.”
Andy Hurley, RNLI Regional Operations Manager said: “The figures go some way to illustrating the incredible dedication shown by the charity's volunteers, without whom we could not carry out our core purpose to save lives at sea.
“These volunteers are equipped and trained to respond to all kinds of incidents whatever the weather throws at them.
“However it is a massive commitment, not only for them, but for their families, loved ones and employers who must also become part of the wider RNLI family.”
RNLI statistics for 2013 - Dorset's beach lifeguards
Weymouth: Lifeguards on Greenhill and the main beach dealt with 331 incidents and assisted 345 people.
In 2012 lifeguards dealt with 271 incidents and assisted 306 people and saved two lives.
West Dorset: Lifeguards at Lyme Regis and West Bay dealt with 144 incidents, and assisted 145 people.
In 2012 they dealt with 177 incidents and assisted 179 people.
Dorset's lifeboat crews
Weymouth: 82 launches - 30 All Weather lifeboat shouts and 52 Inshore Lifeboat shouts. A total of 89 people were assisted. Crews spent 673 hours at sea and did 34 services in dark.
In 2012 they launched 86 times and assisted 88 people.
Swanage: 57 launches - 25 All Weather lifeboat shouts and 32 Inshore Lifeboat shouts. A total of 54 people were assisted. Crews spent 338 hours at sea and did 16 services in the dark.
In 2012 they launched 54 times and assisted 55 people.
Lyme Regis: 31 launches - A total of 34 people were assisted. Crews spent 165 hours at sea and did 11 services in the dark.
In 2012 they launched 45 times and assisted 41 people.