Dad saves strangers in sea drama off Sidmouth

Off-duty lifeboat cox’s day out turned into a rescue mission

A DETERMINED dad-of-two battled the elements to save complete strangers left struggling out at sea when their kayak capsized.

A family day out at the beach for off-duty Sidmouth Lifeboat second cox Phil Shepperd turned into a rescue mission when he spotted a couple stranded in water by strong off-shore winds on Tuesday.

Phil, 42, fought for 30-minutes to single-handedly tow the duo - and their large tandem kayak - 100 meters back to shore, after leaping into a boat and paddling out to the pair.

He nearly had to call his lifesaving colleagues for help as the strong wind resisted the bid for dry land.

Phil, of Higher Brook Meadow, Sidford, had been kayaking with his wife and children earlier in the afternoon.

They were enjoying themselves on the beach when Phil spotted a capsized vessel and two people in the water.

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“They didn’t seem to be making any progress towards the shore and couldn’t get back in their boat,” Phil told the Herald.

“I kayaked out to them and asked if they needed any help. They said they were glad I’d come along as they were in trouble.

“I started to tow them back but, after a few minutes, wasn’t making much headway.

“Just as I was going to pick up my phone and get the lifeboat crew to pick us up the wind dropped off.

“It took around half-an-hour to paddle back to shore.”

The modest dad-of-two said he didn’t think anything of his rescue antics and said: “When an off-shore wind is blowing like it did there’s always something waiting to happen.”

Phil’s Sidmouth Lifeboat crew colleagues said a recent increase in kayak sales has seen many more paddlers enter the town’s waters.

They advised paddlers need to develop a respect for sea and wind conditions, dress appropriately, and carry a means of communication to avoid just such an incident.