Both Eastbourne lifeboats were scrambled on Saturday afternoon when it was reported that three separate groups were cut off by the tide at the foot of Beachy Head cliffs
The alert was initially raised when a pair of jet-skiers noticed two women desperately waving for help perched precariously on the rocks near Beachy Head Lighthouse and two other groups in separate coves nearby also apparently cut off by the tide. Unable to get close enough in the swell to assist, the skiers notified the rescue co-ordination centre at Dover Coastguard. The volunteer crews of both Eastbourne lifeboats were immediately scrambled to assist. The inshore lifeboat (ILB) crew were already on station as they had been assisting the local swimming club with an event near the pier so were en-route within a few minutes of the request to launch. The all-weather lifeboat was also launched as back-up. First on scene the ILB crew took the two terrified women, who had been stranded for at least two hours and were by this time tired and cold, on board. The volunteer crew then went to check on the wellbeing of the other two groups. Both groups reported they were aware of the tides and were content to stay where they were until such time as they were ready to make their own way back to the promenade. After the lifeboat crew had assessed that the two women did not require medical attention they were taken back to the beach at Holywell where they were put ashore having received the grateful thanks of the couple.
A lifeboat spokesman later said it is imperative that walkers, particularly visitors, check tide tables before attempting to walk beneath the cliffs and also take account of the terrain because it takes a lot longer to walk on the shingle beach than many people estimate. Tide tables are posted daily on our website and Twitter feed.
Image: Cliffs below Beachy Head at very low tide. The water rises by up to 8 metres when the tide floods