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Twelve rescued after canoe drama off Dorset coast
Updated 11:13am Sunday 4th May 2014 in News
TWELVE canoeists were plucked to safety in a dramatic rescue operation off the Dorset coast.
Coastguards have issued a warning after the incident, in which six people were thrown into the water after their giant canoe capsized.
Those involved had no way to raise the alarm, and were "fortunate" to be spotted by crew on a nearby diving boat, Portland Coastguard said.
No one was injured.
The alarm was raised yesterday by a boat called Skua, which sent an emergency message to the coastguard when it spotted the canoeists in danger off Old Harry Rocks.
It was joined by another nearby boat, Playtime, and two RNLI lifeboats which rescued nine of the group and escorted the remaining three back to Knoll Beach in Studland.
Ros Evans, Portland Coastguard watch manager, warned it was "imperative" that boaters had the experience and training to cope with the water before setting out.
"The 12 canoeists were out in difficult weather conditions, in easterly winds off Old Harry Rocks which has a notorious race and with the sea temperature still at winter levels," she said.
"They were dressed only in shorts and t-shirts. They were wearing buoyancy aids but appeared to have no other safety gear, no rescue equipment and most worryingly, no way of raising the alarm.
"They were fortunate that the Skua happened to be in the vicinity and was able to offer assistance, despite having divers in the water.
"We would recommend that all boaters wear a personal flotation device, appropriate to their sport, such as a lifejacket or buoyancy aid.
"It's imperative that the weather, sea conditions and tides are checked and that people ensure that they have the experience and training to be able to cope before setting out."
She added that it was essential to have a "way of calling for help" should the worst happen, including a VHF radio or marine distress flares or mini flares and a mobile phone as a back-up.
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