Rescue mission launched after men swept out to sea on 'Quackers' the inflatable duck

The inflatable, known as 'Quackers', has now joined the RNLI as their 'new apprentice crew member.' Credit: RNLI Appledore Lifeboat Situation

Three men who were swept out to sea on an inflatable duck have been rescued, thanks to the RNLI and a member of the public.

The trio entered the sea on the inflatable along with a friend in an inflatable kayak from Westward Ho! beach, but quickly got into trouble, on the evening of Tuesday 6 June.

Within five minutes, they had drifted around 75 metres out to sea and another friend in a kayak was unsuccessful in trying to push them back to shore.

An eyewitness then called the Coastguard when the three men on the duck ended up 200 metres away from shore.

Volunteers for Appledore RNLI were already out on the water doing training exercises when they were notified about the shout and went to Westward Ho! beach.

Meanwhile, a member of the public set out on his paddleboard to help the men being washed out to sea.

Despite battling the current, he managed to tow the inflatable closer to the beach, allowing the men to jump off the duck and swim to shore. But the inflatable immediately blew back out to sea.

The inshore lifeboat then arrived at the beach and crew member Del Elesmore swam in to check on all four men.

Del said: "The quick thinking of this member of the public with a paddleboard prevented a nasty situation turning much worse. He was the real lifesaver of the day."The lifeboats then returned to their exercise, and collected ‘Quackers’, which the RNLI station has now dubbed 'their new apprentice crew member'.

'There is no way to control inflatables at sea'

Despite all four men being safely rescued and the station gaining a new member, the RNLI is now warning people to take currents seriously and not use inflatables.

In a Facebook post, they wrote: "With the strong tides and off shore breezes of the Bristol Channel, Appledore RNLI urges people never to take an inflatable toy into the sea.

"There is no way to control these and they get pulled out from shore within seconds.

"If any member of the public sees someone getting into difficulty in the water, please, as this eyewitness did, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard."