Minehead RNLI issues warning after tide trapps a walker and a swimmer

Both Minehead Lifeboats launched this evening.  Lifeboat officials in Minehead warning of the dangers of the Bristol Channel’s huge tides after volunteer crews carried out two rescues in the space of an hour.

In the first a day tripper had to build a pile of rocks and climb on it after becoming trapped at the foot of cliffs. And in the second a woman’s relaxing evening swim ended up with her clinging to a rock surround by a whirlpool caused by the incoming tide.

Both the station’s boats were launched soon after 6pm this evening (Tuesday) to locate the first casualty, a 38-year old man from Gillingham in Dorset.

He had gone for a walk along the beach at East Quantoxhead, near Watchet, but after stopping for a sandwich found he had become trapped by the tide and was unable to move in either direction.

Although he could get no mobile phone signal he managed to text his girlfriend, who alerted coastguards. The crew of Minehead’s D class boat finally located him with the help of directions from a local fishing boat which was keeping him under observation.

The man was taken off and landed at Watchet marina, unharmed, but shaken by his experience.

D class helmsman Andrew Escott said: “He was in a pretty desperate situation. He had built this pile of rocks which he climbed up to keep clear of the water but the tide was still coming in. Another hour and he would have been swimming.”

While the rescue was in progress Minehead’s Atlantic 85 was ordered to make a 15-mile dash west to Hurlestone Point, near Porlock, to look for another victim of the highest tide of the month.

She was a 23-year old Bristol woman who had gone for a swim off Bossington Beach but who had been carried by strong currents onto the rocks underneath 800-foot cliffs.

The location was so dangerous the boat was unable to approach her but crew member Jim Whittaker swam in 50 yards with a line and secured her. Both were then hauled back to the boat and the woman was taken back to Bossington Beach and handed over to local coastguards.

Helmsman Richard Gay said the woman was in a horrific situation. 

“She was wearing a wetsuit so she wasn’t too cold. But the tide had just ripped her out of the bay and swept her in among the rocks. She ended up hanging on in the middle of a massive whirlpool. There’s no way she could have got out of there with the tide running like it was.

“When we got her out she was very shaken up – and very grateful.”

Minehead RNLI chairman Bryan Stoner said both casualties had been extremely fortunate.

“We are getting a steady stream of calls like this where people just don’t realise the force and magnitude of the tides in the Bristol Channel and how quickly a swim or a walk can put them in a really perilous situation,” he said.

“Thankfully we have not yet had to deal with any fatalities, but as these two incidents show people have had some very narrow escapes.

“We don’t want to discourage people from enjoying this beautiful piece of coastline but we really feel more needs to be done to highlight just how dangerous it can be, particularly when big tides are running.

The Far East comes to West Somerset…

DSC_1062Pretty picturesque Porlock Weir is not really where you expect to find a takeaway & restaurant full of Eastern promise, but walk far enough down to the quaint old harbour there, and that’s exactly what you will get. Ziang’s Far Eastern Street Food has to be about the most surprising find yet I have discovered on Exmoor.

Run by Michael Taylor and his mother Choo, the family hail originally from Brunei in South East Asia. They actually serve good old fish and chips (well we are beside the seaside aren’t we?), but their piece de resistance is their brand of Far Eastern Street Food. The tasty dishes on offer draw their influence from Brunei itself, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and beyond.

As you scan the chalk board menu hung up next to the doorway you begin to understand their modus operandi, which is basically a complete meal in a bowl. Well, it certainly is that, and I can also say that after surveying what was delivered to our table, it is also great value for money!

This same menu board also declares rather cheekily at the bottom, ‘…we like to think we know what we’re doing.’ After trying what was on offer, I can definitely vouch for that. In fact, my daughter Becky who was my accomplice for the day, stated that this was was the quietest I had been all day (I was obviously enjoying my food far too much to be engaging in idle chit-chat).

So, what to go for from such interesting and downright appetising choices on offer…? Eventually I opted for the Duck Rice which came with a fried egg on top, although at this point I stumbled a little. A fried egg on top? Michael immediately detected the incredulous and mystified expression on my face and reassured me that this is how it is done in the far East – forget your standard egg fried rice from your local Chinese, a fried egg placed on top is how it comes if you want it authentic.

Incidentally, Michael says that he eats Duck Rice everyday, so I guess it must be good. Becky opted for the equally tempting Roast Pork Chow Mein. My dear, late step-mother always used to say, ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating.’ Well mother, you were right. As soon as I tucked in, my mouth was hit with a glorious flavour explosion that my taste buds are not likely to forget any time soon.

Now I could fish around for all kinds of Superlatives to describe the aforementioned dish but let me just say simply this: it was delicious. Lots of juicy, tasty duck meat, mouth-watering stir-fried vegetables on a bed of perfectly cooked white rice. And to complement the whole dish, a fried egg on top – of course.

Seating? Well that’s an interesting one because there isn’t a lot. There’s room for 2 or 3 inside, or there’s some comfortable seating and a table right outside the doorway. Alternatively, there are a couple of benches just across the way right by the ancient harbourside, that is part and parcel of Porlock Weir.

This was actually a great experience; enjoying far eastern delights and a fine summer evening on the ruggedly beautiful Exmoor coast – what could be better?? The many and varied elements that evening, including the lovely warm welcome from Michael & his mother, were a combination that was truly hard to beat.

John Raby