A LIFEBOAT crew rescued two cars which were swamped by the sea within 90 minutes of each other as the highest tides of the year caught drivers out.
At least one of the vehicles, which were wrecked by the submerging North Sea, had been used to try to pull a boat out of the water, the RNLI said.
The volunteer service is now urging people to take more care and study tides when launching and recovering boats from the sea.
A crew from Redcar responded to the first call-out at 3.20pm on Wednesday after coastguards received a number of 999 calls saying two people were on the roof of a vehicle on the town’s beach as the waters came in.
The station’s inshore lifeboat was launched and on its arrival at the scene its crew found that the trapped people had made their own way to safety on the beach, one of them sustaining a small hand injury.
To avoid the owner attempting to recover the vehicle himself in the face of the rapidly rising tide, and to avoid pollution from the vehicle’s fuel tank, the lifeboat launching tractor was used to pull it clear of the water.
As the crew were standing down, more calls were made to the coastguard reporting that the driver of a second vehicle had got into difficulties while trying to recover a speed boat on to its trailer near the Marine Club at South Gare.
The lifeboat re-launched, but on arrival its crew discovered that the driver was safe ashore and the vehicle was being rapidly submerged by the tide.
Dave Cocks, lifeboat operations manager at Redcar RNLI said: “Launching and recovering boats, whether it’s from the beach or a slipway, needs the right vehicle, a good understanding of what the tide is doing, and plenty of practice.
“Unfortunately it’s proved a very expensive afternoon for two car owners. Fortunately, apart from a minor hand injury, no one has come to any real harm today, but the consequences could easily been much more serious.
“And with some of the highest tides of the year right now, today couldn’t have been a worse day for this to happen.”