DORSET was again one of the busiest regions in the country for lifeboat launches.
The Olympic sailing events in Weymouth and Portland led to one of the busiest periods on record for RNLI crews.
Weymouth lifeboat station recorded 32 launches and at Lyme Regis lifeboat station responded to 16 incidents from June 1 to August 31.
Poole remains the busiest lifeboat station in the south west and despite the poor summer weather the number of launches in the region increased slightly.
Figures just revealed by the Poole-based RNLI show that lifeboat crews went out 653 times, a rise on last year’s total of 627.
Despite the unseasonal summer, the charity’s volunteers in Dorset and south west counties were involved in a wide range of activities from the Jubilee celebrations on the River Thames and the Olympic sailing at Weymouth to dramatic recues.
Nationally the figures, which cover the period June 1 to August 31, 2012, are down two per cent compared to the 2011 figures, probably due to the rainy weather at the start of the summer, says the lifeboat charity.
The south west has seen a slight rise of 26 emergency call outs and the unseasonable weather has led to some extremely difficult rescues.
The busiest stations in the south west were Poole and Falmouth, Cornwall, each with 45 call outs, followed by Plymouth with 39 emergency launches and St Helier, Jersey with 33.
“This has been an unusual summer with some tricky weather for our volunteer lifeboat crews to contend with,” said Tom Mansell, RNLI inspector in the south-west.
“Then of course there was the role played by many of our south west crew volunteers in supporting the Olympic and Paralympic sailing events in Weymouth. Between them they crewed lifeboats and provided important safety cover.”
He said: “Once again our volunteer crews have shown that they are committed and brave individuals, on standby to save lives at sea come rain or shine even during the summer when they deserve their own time off to be with their families.
“I thank them for their continuing dedication and I thank their families too.”
The busiest summer for south west RNLI lifeboat crews in the last five years was in 2008 when they launched 725 times.
The number has fallen steadily since then.
Catalogue of resuce dramas
Among the incidents over the summer were: In August two young men rescued after getting cut off by the tide at Lulworth Cove .
During the same week Swanage RNLI lifeboat was called out after a dinghy capsized in Studland Bay and rescued two people onboard.
Weymouth Lifeboat transferred a man with an arm injury from a vessel in Portland Harbour.
Poole RNLI lifeboat and the inshore lifeboat were called out after a collision between two jet-skis in Poole Harbour.
In July Swanage’s lifeboat crews took part in seven rescues in just six days.
The call-outs included pulling casualties from the water, saving children cut off by the tide and searches for missing kayakers and divers.
Weymouth RNLI Lifeboat assisted a yacht back into the town’s harbour after it ran aground at St Alban’s Head a day earlier. It also towed another yacht which had broken down off Portland.
Poole RNLI all-weather and inshore lifeboats were all called to an incident the same week when a luxury motor cruiser caught fire.