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Round Ireland RIB Challenge Skipper Thrown From Boat, Rescued by Coastguard Helicopter

28th July 2013
Round Ireland RIB Challenge Skipper Thrown From Boat, Rescued by Coastguard Helicopter

#RIB – An air sea rescue for a solo Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RIB) skipper in the Irish Sea got the 2013 Round Ireland RIB Challenge off to a dramatic start at the weekend.

The 24–boat circumnavigation RIB fleet arrived in Dun Laoghaire marina on schedule yesterday afternoon, but one of their number was lucky to be alive after a Search and Rescue operation on Friday plucked a solo skipper from the sea, some nine miles offshore from Milford Haven.

The RIB driver was thrown out of his craft, and a signal from his personal locator beacon was picked up. The incident happened during a crossing from Milford Haven in Wales to the start of the RIB Challenge at Kilmore Quay in County Wexford on Friday afternoon, according to HM Coastguard.

The RIB named Merlin is a Gemini Waverider 4.95m RIB, according to details on the Round Ireland Challenge website. 

As Afloat.ie reported on Friday, Falmouth Coastguard contacted Milford Haven Coastguard about a signal from a PLB, (personal locator beacon) located nine miles offshore from St David's Head on Friday afternoon. Coastguard officers checked vessel and contact details on the UK Beacon Registry database and identified that this PLB was registered to Merlin.

Milford Haven Coastguard requested the launch of St Davids RNLI Lifeboat and the rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor.

The rescue helicopter located the man in the water using the signal from the beacon and winched him into the aircraft. The man was checked by the crew in the helicopter and in agreement with Milford Haven Coastguard returned to his vessel and has made the return voyage to Milford Haven.

He was thrown into the water but was wearing a survival suit, lifejacket and had a PLB with him. The man spent approximately three hours in the water.

Milford Haven Coastguard Watch Manager Rob James says:
"Fortunately this skipper was prepared for a single handed voyage offshore and having the right gear has saved his life. The kill cord on the vessel did work and cut the engine when he was thrown from the boat.

Wearing a survival suit and lifejacket enabled him to survive the three hours in the sea while awaiting rescue and the PLB which was activated sent the exact location of the casualty to the Coastguard."

A tweet from the Challenge organisers on Saturday said Merlin had been 'delayed' and would join the fleet in Dun Laoghaire marina. The fleet, drawn largely from the UK but with Irish, German and Luxembourg entries too, enjoyed an evening at Dun Laoghaire last night and headed north for Bangor marina on Belfast Lough at 9am this morning.

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