Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Staying Safe at Rest Bay, Porthcawl - Rest Bay Rip Currents

Here's our guide on how to stay safe when visiting Rest Bay, particularly during the winter months when there are no lifeguards patrolling the beach:

The main danger at Rest Bay is found during the incoming and outgoing tide. There is a strong rip current near to the point at the left hand side of the bay as you look out from the lifeguard station. 

The rip current at the point tends to be stronger on spring tides and whenever there is surf at the beach. Spring tides happen every two weeks when there is a new moon or a full moon. For further info on tides read more here. (Spring tides have the highest tide height figures when looking at a tide table. Normally around or close to 10.0m for Rest Bay).

The rip current found next to the point is due to all the water that is being pushed into the bay naturally trying to escape. It does this at the edge of the bay running out along the rocks at the point. For more info on rip currents read this guide. The rip current at the point can be equally as strong on the outgoing tide as the incoming tide and a number of rescues / assists by lifeguards in the summer takes place on the outgoing tide.

There is also a strong lateral current in the direction of town on the incoming tide due to water moving up the Bristol Channel. Again the lateral current is stronger during spring tides. The combination of the rip current and the lateral current produces a strong current in the direction of town particularly during spring tides.

When there are no lifeguards present stay on the golf club side of the lifeguard station for the incoming and outgoing tide (approximately 4 hours either side of high water). It is important to pick a reference point on the land and regularly look up to check your position as it's surprising how quickly the current can take you in the direction of town, particularly when you're focused on looking out to sea for the next set of waves. Good reference points to use: golf club buildings, lifeguard station, slipway, flag poles or malcs cafe - once you've chosen one of these reference points keep an eye on it and and try not to drift past it. If you drift past the lifeguard station and slipway catch a wave into the beach (before you're swept around the point) and walk back down towards Pink Bay before going back in the sea.

The rip can be seen in the aerial picture below flowing out along the point:

Once you get swept around the point there is nowhere to safely get to shore especially when there is large surf breaking onto the rocks. Stay with your board and signal for help to people on locks common - if you don't have a board float on your back. Don't be tempted to catch a wave into the rocks as they are particularly sharp and rugged at the point. As a minimum you'll get some cuts and grazes but in big surf you're likely to take a hammering trying to get out. If you signal for help someone will see you in trouble and contact the coastguard who will call the lifeboat. If you're able to, try to paddle out further to sea so the lifeboat doesn't need to come close inshore to rescue you. 

If you see someone in difficulties dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard (there is a SOS phone on the ramp side of the lifeguard station - mobile phone signal at Rest Bay is generally poor). Don't be tempted to try helping the person yourself as you could get into trouble too.

The image below is specific to Rest Bay and particularly relevant if visiting the beach outside of the lifeguarded season.


When there is large surf or a strong current at Rest Bay inexperienced surfers, body boarders and swimmers may find the conditions at Sandy Bay (Coney Beach) more suited to their ability. At Coney beware of a strong current at low tide.

The winter storms of 2013/2014 removed a significant amount of sand from the top of Rest Bay and the beach has never fully recovered. Conditions can be quite dangerous at high water due to submerged rocks particularly when there is surf. We would advise inexperienced surfers, bodyboarders etc. to avoid Rest Bay 2 hours either side of high water due to potentially dangerous conditions. The red line in the image shows the area of exposed rocks normally covered by sand during the summer months.

The rip current / lateral current at Rest Bay accounts for around 98% of rescues and assists by lifeguards in an average summer season.

Club Captain Chris Page advises less experienced surfers, bodyboarders and swimmers to stick to lifeguarded beaches during the summer months. This is particularly important if you're unfamiliar with the dangers at the beach you're visiting. The RNLI produce an excellent beach safety guide with further information on staying safe at the beach: RNLI beach safety guide. To find your nearest lifeguarded beach visit: goodbeachguide.co.uk 

During the summer months lifeguards play a proactive role preventing incidents occurring and zone the beach into different areas to keep people safe. Red and Yellow flags mark the swimming and bodyboarding area which is patrolled by lifeguards whilst black and white flags mark the surfing area for people on surf boards and other hard craft. If you see the red flag flying don't go in the water. At Rest Bay there is a bylaw making bathing prohibited whenever the red flag is flying.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Rescue Tuesday 26/08/14

RESCUE 16.45 - Rescue water craft launched to patrol point area by volunteer lifeguard due to large surf and strong current. The surf conditions were some of the largest of the summer. A number of surfers were given safety advice as they were drifting rapidly towards the point. One surfer was struggling in the strong current and getting blown out by strong offshore winds and was having difficulty trying to catch a wave into the beach. He was in danger of being swept around the point. He was picked up by the RWC on the rescue sled and transferred to a safer area of the beach down towards the golf club.

View video from the day here:



BCBC Duty Lifeguards: Chris Bluck, Gavin Davies, Lewis Campbell
Volunteer RWC Driver: Chris Page
Conditions: 5-6 foot clean surf, strong offshore winds, sunny spells
HW: 19.57 (incoming at time of incident)

Monday, 18 August 2014

Assistance x2 Monday 18/08/14

ASSIST 14.50 - Surfer on rental board struggling in current near point.Lewis Campbell paddled out on a rescue board to provide assistance and advice. The surfer declined further help from Lewis and swam up onto rocks with board.

ASSIST 16.10 - Surfer on rental board drifting down close to point. Lewis Evans paddled out on rescue board to provide assistance and advice. Surfer caught wave into beach without the need for any further assistance from Lewis.

BCBC Duty Lifeguards: Chris Bluck, Lewis Campbell, Lewis Evans
Conditions: 2-3 foot messy surf, Overcast / showers
HW: 19.15 (incoming at time of incidents) 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Medivac, Assist x4, Rescue x1 Sunday 17/08/14

MEDIVAC 12.10 - 68 year old female tripped whilst getting out of car landing awkwardly on her hip. Complaining of pain and numbness in left left. Suspected that the lady had broken her hip. Casualty was monitored and made comfortable by Chris Bluck (voluntary lifeguard) and Gareth Davies (BCBC lifeguard). Ambulance called to take the lady to hospital.

RESCUE 15.00 - Rescue water craft launched to rescue a 14 year old boy on surf board struggling in the current near the point. 2 surfers paddled across to assist whilst the RWC was being launched. The boy was picked up by the RWC and returned to the beach where he was given safety advice.

The RWC remained on patrol at the point following the rescue and was involved in these additional incidents:

x3 ASSISTANCE 15.10 - 3 surfers all swept towards point due to current. Each was picked up by the RWC and transferred to a safer area of the bay down towards the golf club.

ASSISTANCE 15.30 - A 57 year old male capsized his kayak in the area of the point. He was swept around the point by the rip current and was in close proximity to the rocks. Due to the surf conditions and his proximity to the rocks the RWC had some difficulty getting close to him. The RWC made contact but the man didn't feel he had the strength to pull himself onto the sled. At that moment a wave broke over the RWC and washed the man back onto the rocks. He was assisted from the water by land based lifeguards who had climbed down onto the rocks to assist.  

Duty Lifeguards: Chris Page, Gareth Davies, Arran Bluck
Voluntary Lifeguard Involved in Incidents: Chris Bluck
RWC Driver: Chris Page
Conditions: 4-5 foot surf, Overcast
HW: 17.50 (incoming at the time of the incidents)

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Rescue 06/08/14 17.30

RESCUE 17.30: 15 year old girl surfer at Rest Bay rescued by father and son lifeguard team.


A 15 year old girl who had hired a surfboard was struggling in the rip current at the point during the outgoing tide. Initially she was given advice by club junior lifeguard Ioan Bluck who was in the water training nearby on a rescue board at the time. He encouraged her to paddle her board towards the beach and catch a wave in. However it soon became clear the girl was making no progress and drifting further around the point so Ioan made the decision to get the girl on his rescue board and paddle back against the current. Ioan was making good progress and was met by BCBC lifeguard Chris Bluck (Ioan's father) who had swam out to assist. Chris took over from Ioan who was now becoming tired himself. All made it safely back into the beach at Rest Bay and the girl was grateful for the assistance from Ioan and Chris who is also chairman of Rest Bay lifeguard club. Afterwards she joked that she probably should book in for some surf lessons. Ioan acted entirely on his own initiative and put himself in a potentially dangerous situation to provide help and in doing so prevented her from getting swept onto sharp rocks. Very proud of Ioan and his actions as a junior lifeguard assisting the BCBC lifeguards today :)



Please be wary of the rip near the point on incoming and outgoing tides as it can be strong during both. When the beach is flagged stay to flagged zones. If no flags stay to golf club side of lifeguard station. Only visit lifeguarded beaches this summer.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Assist x1 - Wednesday 30/07/14

ASSIST 18.45 - Capsized kayaker who had been swept around point was assisted by off duty lifeguards Chris Page and Arran Bluck who paddled out to him to provide assistance on rescue boards. Chris and Arran were present at the time due to junior training which was being held at the beach during the evening. Assisted by Chris and Arran the kayaker managed to reboard his capsized kayak and then paddled back around into the main bay.

Off Duty Lifeguards Involved: Chris Page, Arran Bluck
Conditions: 2 foot surf, overcast
HW: 21.25 

Monday, 14 July 2014

x3 Assistance Monday 14/07/14

Assist 17.00 - x3 surfers drifting rapidly towards the point were assisted and encouraged to catch waves into the beach by Lewis Campbell who paddled out to them on a rescue board. Once all had safely made it back into the beach they were given safety advice regarding the rip current.


BCBC Duty Lifeguards: Gavin Davies, Arran Bluck, Lewis Campbell

Conditions: Overcast, 2-3 foot surf
HW: 20.51 (incoming at time of incident)