Southend RNLI volunteers have described their "most challenging shout in 15 years" as they raced to rescue a rower in rapidly deteriorating weather conditions off Thorpe Bay. 

Southend RNLI volunteers were paged at 4.12pm on Thursday to check on the welfare of a person seen rowing a dinghy towards the Mulberry Harbour off Thorpe Bay.

Members of Thorpe Bay Yacht Club had seen a person rowing the dinghy and with the weather deteriorating and an outgoing tide, the yacht club members kept a vigilant eye on the situation.

The person appeared to be rowing out to the Mulberry Harbour. Fearing for the person's safety, Thorpe Bay Yacht Club members alerted the authorities.

Southend RNLI volunteer crew led by helm Tony Field launched the charity’s Atlantic 85 Julia and Angus Wright in heavy seas and a southwest wind gusting 35 mph.

The crew made best speed towards the location.

HM Coastguard Southend had visual contact and reported the man had reached the Mulberry Harbour and climbed onto the structure.

The volunteer crew arrived on scene at 5.10pm, one hour before low tide.

A crew member was put ashore to assess the man.

The rower, in his late 30’s was cold, exhausted and it was apparent he needed immediate medical attention.

A second crew member was put onshore.

With the weather worsening to gale force winds and heavy rain, time was of the essence.

The decision was made to transfer the casualty to the lifeboat to take them the one mile to shore and with outstanding seamanship from the helm and exceptional skills from the crew the volunteers transferred the casualty to the Atlantic 85 with great efficiency.

Volunteer helm Tony Field said: "This was unquestionably the most challenging shout I have had in 15 years.

"A huge thanks to crew Josh, Alex and Ed, a super effort all round.

"Conditions were tough with winds gusting over 40 knots and large breaking waves on the lee shore making it difficult to get the lifeboat close to the casualty, the guy’s did a great job getting the casualty onboard the lifeboat’."

Once the casualty was onboard the volunteers returned to Southend RNLI offshore station, they assessed and treated the casualty then drove the length of Southend pier in the charity’s electric buggy handing the casualty to waiting ambulance crew at Southend RNLI inshore station.

If you see someone in trouble by the sea or you are concerned for someone’s safety, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard, you could save someone’s life.