Son asked father for 'last kiss' after kayak capsized at sea


A firefighter has spoken of the moment his 13-year-old son asked for a kiss as a final wish after their kayak capsized at sea a mile from shore.

Paul Rowlands, 50, and son Joe, from Nantwich, Cheshire, were in their sit-in kayak in Ynys Dulas off Lligwy beach at Anglesey last month when it started taking in water.

Mr Rowlands turned over the vessel and asked his son to sit on top before he joined him, but it would not take both their weights so he desperately tried to drag them to shore - without any success.

The station manager with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "It's at this point that I realised our only chance of survival was to leave the craft and swim to a rock that was sticking out of the sea and approximately half-way between us and the shoreline, which was some half a mile away.

"I was just thinking about keeping Joe safe at that moment in time and knew we needed to rescue ourselves and quickly. Although the sea was calm that day, it was extremely cold.

"Joe said he thought we were going to die and his final wish was a kiss from me. Although I reassured him that we were going to be fine, the thought also crossed my mind and I literally feared for both our lives."

The pair kissed and Mr Rowlands told his son he loved him very much and they set off swimming.

Paul Rowlands and son Joe thank lifeboat staff
Paul Rowlands and son Joe thank lifeboat staff

His son managed to reach the rock, but then Mr Rowlands was overcome by fatigue - and as he dipped in and out of consciousness, his son re-entered the water and managed to pull him to safety.

Joe then began chest compressions on his unconscious father and has said that water "gushed out of his dad's mouth".

He then performed mouth-to-mouth, followed by more compressions before his father finally came round.

They made their way from the rock to Dulas Island, an island of rock with a disused open tower previously built for shipwrecked sailors.

Scratched and bruised from their ordeal, the pair huddled together in the tower for two-and-half hours before help arrived after Mr Rowlands's wife, Julie Ann, raised the alarm when they did not return and contacted HM Coastguard.

The all-weather RNLI lifeboat Kiwi launched along with multi-agency assets assisting from Moelfre, Cemaes and Penmon coastguards - and the coastguard helicopter from Caernarfon was requested.

Both casualties were winched to safety and taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor on February 22.

Paul added: "I would like to thank the RNLI for coming to our rescue that day.

Without this resource both myself and Joe wouldn't be here today so I can't thank them enough.

"Joe also saved my life that day and was extremely courageous in a life and death situation. As a reward I bought him the phone he'd always wanted, but I know I can never really repay him for saving my life and I'm extremely proud of him."