Warning over dangers of tombstoning after teens get into difficulty

Youngsters are being warned of the dangers of tombstoning along the Northumberland coast after two got in difficulties.

Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 8:44 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 4:05 pm
Two youths were rescued by Blyth's inshore lifeboat after getting into difficulties after jumping off the pier. Picture by John Tuttiett.

Two teenagers were rescued by Blyth RNLI’s inshore lifeboat at 8pm on Tuesday.

The pair had been among a larger group jumping off the pier in Blyth harbour but were caught out by strong currents.

They managed to fight their way through the water to the crossbeams under the pier while their friends raised the alarm with the Port of Blyth’s harbour master, with the lifeboat crew quickly on scene and taking them to Blyth beach.

Now as the warmer weather and lighter nights becomes an attractive combination, youngsters are being warned of the hidden dangers of swimming in the port and tombstoning.

Port of Blyth harbour master Martin Willis said it was illegal to swim in the harbour and it was unsafe due to the amount of traffic and rocks hidden beneath the surface next to the pier.

He said: “At this time of year, the issue of children swimming within operational ports and tombstoning is high.

“The way to get the message across is through education.

“For Blyth, we do have by-laws forbidding swimming within the harbour.

“There are rocks beneath the pier, it is an unsafe activity.

“There are beaches close by that people can swim off safely.

“Where these children were swimming, the water is colder and there are strong currents.

“The water level depends on the tides, but even though it’s a four to five metre drop, there are rocks just beneath the surface.

“The only thing they did right was their friends raised the alarm quickly when they got into difficulty.

“There is potential for serious injury or fatality when there is open water involved so it’s best not to put yourself in that situation.”

Mr Willis added: “The conditions are often misleading. There is usually an offshore wind that can quickly blow people away from the safety of the pier.

“The temperature of the water can catch people out.

“People think it would be easy enough to swim the 100 metres to the beach from the pier, but the sea will be cold and there are the currents to fight make it difficult, especially for the young.”