A teenage paddleboarder has rescued a young girl who was being blown out to sea on an inflatable swan.
Coastguards praised the “quick actions” of the boarder, a 17-year-old boy, saying he saved the child from a situation which “could have had a tragic ending”.
The alarm was raised at about 4.30pm on Thursday when the nine-year-old girl got into difficulty just off Stevenston on the North Ayrshire coast.
The paddleboarder managed to get the girl on to his board before emergency services arrived but he was not able to get back to shore due to the wind conditions.Troon Lifeboat recovered the child and the paddleboarder and took them to Ardrossan Harbour, where they were checked over by paramedics but did not need further medical attention and were reunited with their families.
Coastguard helicopter Rescue 199, Ardrossan Coastguard rescue team and police also responded to the incident.
Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team warned of the dangers of using inflatable pool toys in the sea.
In a Facebook post on Friday, they said: “The quick actions of the paddleboarder without a doubt saved the young girl from a situation which could have had a tragic ending.
“Yesterday also highlights once again the dangers of using inflatables at the coast, especially in offshore wind conditions.
“Inflatable toys are designed for the swimming pool – not the sea.”
The girl is thought to be local while the paddleboarder was from Gateshead in Tyne and Wear and was understood to be on holiday in the area, lifeboat crew said.
RNLI Lifeboat coxswain Joe Millar said: “It was warm in the sun yesterday but the wind direction was offshore so the only place she was going was out to sea.”
Three kayakers were also rescued on Thursday after they were blown off shore north of Ardrossan Harbour.
The trio and their kayaks were recovered by RNLI Troon lifeboat which took them to Ardrossan Harbour, where they were passed into the care of the Scottish Ambulance Service but did not need further medical attention.
Ardrossan Coastguard advised people to avoid setting out to sea for any sort of surface watersport including paddleboarding or kayaking when there is an offshore wind.
They said: “You can very quickly drift or be blown a significant distance from shore without realising and ultimately may require to be rescued.”