Lifeboat rescue was 'like a scary movie'

The Sumner Lifeboat team that rescued Natalie. (Back row, left to right) – Patrice de Beer,...
The Sumner Lifeboat team that rescued Natalie. (Back row, left to right) – Patrice de Beer, Anthony Honeybone (skipper), Niels de Beer. (Front) – Ellie Honeybone, Natalie Crowther​. Photo: Supplied
After being stranded for two hours, unable to swim or hear, Natalie Crowther was "so thankful" for the Sumner Lifeboat crew - and her life jacket.

Natalie, 27, and her partner Mathew, 28, paddled on a one-person kayak to a cave between Scarborough and Taylors Mistake about 6pm last Monday.

The only way to get to their secluded destination spot was to swim or by small boat.

While Mathew went diving for an hour, Natalie sat on the rocks watching the conditions change and the sea turn rough.

When Mathew resurfaced, they decided it was time to go and tried to get back on the kayak together.

“I tried to get on the kayak but it was too rough . . . the waves kept rolling over it and I kept falling in the water,” Natalie said.

A wave pushing her onto the rocks left Natalie with a swollen leg and after many unsuccessful attempts of getting on the kayak, she realised she was in trouble.

Mathew with the kayak the couple used to get to the cave. Photo: Supplied
Mathew with the kayak the couple used to get to the cave. Photo: Supplied
There was no cellphone reception, so Mathew kayaked to find help while Natalie waited on the rocks.

Natalie can’t swim due to being unable to lift her left arm at a right angle. She also has trouble hearing and wears a cochlear implant.

With her cochlear implant left in the car, and wet hearing aids, she couldn’t hear anything.

“I’m 27, and all I was thinking was: ‘I want my mum,’ I’m a bit of a hopeless case, I can’t hear anything and I can’t swim.”

Natalie was stranded alone for 90min.

“It was really scary having to sit there . . . it was almost like a scary movie,” she said.

“It was just that feeling of isolation and knowing I can’t swim back, there was like no way I could get anyone to come get me.”

Once Sumner Lifeboat was notified at 7.55pm, with Mathew’s directions, they were able locate Natalie.

Without her hearing aids, communication was hard but two crew members were able to assist Natalie to swim to the rescue vessel and she was then taken to Sumner Lifeboat’s base.

“They were great, they kept me warm, we had some good yarns,” Natalie said.

Natalie Crowther was stranded between Scarborough and Taylors Mistake. Photo: Supplied
Natalie Crowther was stranded between Scarborough and Taylors Mistake. Photo: Supplied
The medics checked her over. Apart from some bruises, Natalie was okay.

“I really appreciate the life boating team. It would have been way worse without them.”

On avoiding incidents such as these, Sumner Lifeboat crew member Howard Nicholls said:

“Plan your trip, consider the hazards . . . and try to stay within your limits. Conditions can quickly change . . . tell someone where you are going and your ETA.”

The one positive to come out of the experience Natalie said, was while he was diving, Mathew caught two crayfish.

“I got home and told mum we got two crayfish. But there’s more …”

 

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