RNLI rescue statistics released this week reveal that lifeboat crews across Wales – including those from Barry Dock and Penarth lifeboat stations - spent 10,993 hours at sea in 2012.
RNLI lifeboats stretching between Penarth and Flint launched 991 times, rescuing 925 people.
It was also a busy summer for RNLI lifeguards who responded to 1,334 incidents and assisted 1,426 people on 32 of Wales’ busiest beaches.
2012 saw the RNLI introduce lifeguards to additional beaches in the Vale of Glamorgan, with Whitmore Bay at Barry Island identified as the busiest RNLI lifeguarded beach over the summer period. The charity’s lifeguards responded to 234 incidents and assisted 241 members of the public on Whitmore Bay. The majority of the incidents were searches for missing people including children.
It was also a very busy year for the Welsh RNLI Flood Rescue Team, including volunteers from Penarth, Barry Dock and across south Wales, who responded to three flooding incidents in Wales and assisted RNLI colleagues in Devon and Cornwall.
Flood Rescue Team members used their specialised skills to assist 43 people in St Asaph in November; while in June, the team were deployed to Ceredigion to help the Fire and Rescue Service at a flooded caravan park near Aberystwyth. And as the rest of the country were building up to Christmas festivities, RNLI volunteers from Porthcawl, Penarth and Barry Dock were part of a team which saved a woman clinging to a tree after she was separated from her family due to flooding in Umberleigh, Devon.
The eight RNLI lifeboat stations in south Wales - from Atlantic College to The Mumbles in Swansea - launched 223 times and rescued 217 people, with volunteers spending a collective 2,712 hours at sea on service and in training.
Colin Williams, RNLI regional operations manager for the West said: "Whilst it would be easy to assume the wettest year on record would mean a quieter year for the RNLI, the services of our volunteers have never been more in demand. “In fact, nearly half the lifeboat stations in Wales saw an increase in launches, meaning people are still visiting the coast and are venturing into or onto the sea whatever the weather.
"RNLI volunteers on the Welsh coast have proved their commitment to the charity by spending more time than ever before honing their skills to deal with the wide range of incidents they have to deal with when their pagers sound,” he added.
“600 volunteers in Wales spent 6,583 hours at sea responding to emergencies and 4,409 hours preparing for emergency situations.
"The devastating floods, in Wales in particular, has also meant a very busy year for our Flood Rescue Team who are specially trained in swift water rescue and available to deploy at 24-hour’s notice."
The charity’s lifeguards are already training and preparing equipment to deliver another successful safety service across the busiest beaches this coming summer.
Stuart Thompson, RNLI lifeguard manager said: "RNLI lifeguards were kept busy throughout the summer as the public continued to visit the beaches - even in bad weather. “The charity expanded its safety cover in 2012 by offering RNLI lifeguarding services on four beaches in the Vale of Glamorgan, with Whitmore Bay being the busiest beach. “The new partnership proved very successful, and lifeguards were particularly busy at Barry Island, especially dealing with lost children.
"On any busy beach, it’s easy for people to be separated or lose track of their group,” he added.
“When visiting the beach, remember to keep an eye on members of your party, especially children, and agree on a meeting point should anyone become separated from the group."