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The RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard are urging people who will be spending time on or near the water during the Easter break to take note of the relevant water safety advice for their activity and to raise the alarm if they see someone in trouble by dialling 999 or 112 and asking for the Coast Guard. The call comes as the Easter break falls early this year and recent call outs for the search and rescue resources have seen a noted increase in requests to assist walkers cut off by the tide and people getting into difficulty while engaging in open water swimming.

Both organisations emphasise the importance of adherence with Government guidelines on 5 km travel and other Covid related restrictions. With many people who live near the coast, exercising on or alongside the water, the Coast Guard and the RNLI are requesting the public to be cautious when engaging in any coastal or water-based activity. Despite some recent warm weather, sea temperatures remain at their coldest this time of year. Also, cliff top areas may have been subject to erosion or other local weather-related changes and care should be taken when walking there.

Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety manager, said: ‘We are asking people to think about their own safety. Coastal areas and our inland waterways provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember that while air temperatures may be warming up in Spring and early Summer, water temperatures remain dangerously cold between 8-10°, increasing the risk of cold water shock. And, if you are out for a walk on the beach, make sure to check the tide times to avoid being cut off by a rising tide.’

Irish Coast Guard, Head of Operations Gerard O’Flynn added: ‘The past year has seen an increase in activities such as open water swimming, and incidents relating to use of inflatable toys which are unsuitable for open water. Please always be mindful of your personal safety and always ensure that you have a means of communication should you get into difficulty.’

Water safety advice from the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI:

  • When kayaking and paddleboarding, always carry a means of calling for help, such as a VHF radio or mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
    Whenever going afloat, wear an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket.
  • For open water swimmers and dippers, acclimatise slowly and always be visible
  • Check weather forecasts, tidal conditions, never swim alone and ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague onshore.
  • Take care if walking or running near cliffs – know your route and keep dogs on a lead
  • Carry a fully charged phone
  • If you get into trouble in the water, FLOAT - fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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With the Easter holidays now begun in Northern Ireland, Larne RNLI is encouraging anyone planning to visit the coast to know the risks to protect themselves and their families and to heed key sea safety advice.

Larne RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew have returned to training in the last month with Covid-19 protocols in place and have already seen an increase in the number of people using the coastline for exercise and using beaches and bays for open-water swimming.

The station has remained operational throughout the pandemic and will continue to launch around the clock where there is a risk to life.

Ahead of the Easter break, Allan Dorman, Larne RNLI lifeboat operations manager, reminded people who are planning to be by the sea to always respect the water.

“Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember it can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during spring and early summer when air temperatures may be warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock,” he said.

“We are reminding anyone planning to enter the water to follow the latest government guidelines on what you are allowed to do and where and to take extra care and avoid unnecessary risks as early season conditions are more challenging.

“Basic precautions can greatly reduce the risk of getting into difficulty whatever your activity and improve your chance of being found quickly should you find yourself in trouble.”

For activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, the RNLI recommends you carry a means of calling for help, such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch, and that you ensure you are wearing the right kit for the water temperature.

“A wetsuit will keep you warm and help you float in an emergency although wearing an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket is still vital,” Dorman said. “For open-water swimmers and dippers, please also remember to acclimatise slowly and be visible with a brightly coloured hat.

“When you are going to visit a beach or are going near the water, we recommend that you go with a friend who can call for help should the need arise. If you plan on going into the water, we advise that you go as a pair with someone on the shore who can act as a spotter to call for assistance if needed.

“Always make sure that you have a means to contact someone on the shore if you are going out on a boat or kayak and ensure that your equipment is fully operational especially if it is the first time for it to be used this year after winter and the lockdown period.

“Should you get into difficulty or see someone in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

The RNLI’s key safety advice is:

  • Check weather forecasts, tide times and any local hazard signage to understand local risks
  • Take care if walking or running near cliffs — know your route and keep dogs on a lead.
  • Carry a fully charged phone
  • If you get into trouble in the water, float to live: fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs and float.
  • In an emergency, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard

For further information on how to keep safe by the sea, visit rnli.org/safety

Published in Water Safety
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Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI rescued a swimmer in difficulty yesterday (Tuesday 30 March) who could not get back to shore.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were paged following a report made to the Irish Coast Guard that a swimmer was believed to be in difficulty and finding it hard to get back to shore.

The inshore lifeboat was launched immediately by a crew of three at 3.21 pm and made its way to the scene arriving at 3.26 pm.

Weather conditions at the time were described as having an easterly breeze causing a moderate sea state with a slight swell, visibility at the time was good.

On arrival the lifeboat crew found the casualty exhausted and holding on to rocks about 50 metres southeast of Forty Foot. After quickly assessing the situation, the crew came alongside and brought the person onboard. They then carried out a casualty care assessment and observed that the casualty was very cold from the long exposure to the cold sea temperature but otherwise in good health. The lifeboat transferred the person to land in Sandycove Harbour with help from the Dun Laoghaire Irish Coast Guard unit and into the care of an awaiting National Ambulance service crew for a secondary medical assessment.

Mark McGibney, Dun Laoghaire RNLI's Lifeboat CoxswainMark McGibney, Dun Laoghaire RNLI's Lifeboat Coxswain

Speaking following the call-out, Mark McGibney, Dun Laoghaire RNLI's Lifeboat Coxswain said: ‘ The crew and I are very happy that the outcome of this call-out was a positive one as things in situations like that can change very fast for the worst. We are glad the person involved was brought back to shore safely and in good health'

'I would like to ask everyone planning on entering the water to check the weather and sea conditions at the time and to never underestimate the sea. The sun may be shining and air temperatures rising but the Irish sea temperature in our area is just above 7 degrees at this time of year. Please be aware that cold water shock is always a risk for people in Irish waters even as we come into the summer'

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Lough Ree RNLI is urging the public using the River Shannon and Lough Ree to be safety conscious as they make the seasonal return to the waterway this weekend.

The volunteer lifeboat crew at Lough Ree RNLI have, in line with Covid-19 protocols, returned to the water for training this month and are ready for the new season on the water.

With the combination of Easter holidays, an upcoming extension in travel limits and the hope for better weather over the next few weeks, it’s expected that Lough Ree and the River Shannon will attract large numbers of local visitors.

Jude Kilmartin, Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: “We are asking everyone planning on taking to the water over the holiday period to refresh their safety procedures, check that all safety equipment is in working order and remember never to go on the lake or river without lifejackets.”

The volunteer crew of Lough Ree RNLI looks forward to working with the local community and serving those in Longford, Westmeath and Roscommon who avail of the local amenities over Easter.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Waterways Ireland has appealed for all users of Ireland’s inland waterways not to take part in any activity on the water under the prevailing pandemic restrictions.

Published in Water Safety
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Skerries RNLI rescued two stand-up paddle boarders after strong currents and Force 6 offshore winds prevented them from making their way back to shore.

Shortly before 2.30pm yesterday afternoon (Sunday 28 March), a retired Skerries RNLI volunteer noticed a man and woman struggling to make their way ashore on their paddle boards near Red Island in Skerries.

He alerted the lifeboat operations manager and following a brief discussion it was decided that the pair were not making any progress.

Dublin Coast Guard were contacted and the decision was taken to page the volunteer crew and launch the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson.

The crew rounded the headland at Red Island and arrived on scene in a matter of minutes, funding the man and woman both extremely tired from fighting against the wind and tide.

They were taken on board the lifeboat along with their paddle boards. A first-aid assessment was carried out but aside from being exhausted they did not require any further medical assistance, and the pair were returned safely to the beach at the lifeboat station.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It doesn’t matter how good your equipment is, or how prepared you are, things can still go wrong at sea.

“We would remind anyone going to sea to carry a means of contacting the shore for help, even if you do not intend to go far. Something as simple as a phone in a waterproof pouch can make all the difference.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Newcastle RNLI volunteer crew launched the inshore D class lifeboat 'Eliza' at the request of Belfast Coastguard to assist three kayakers who were in difficulties in Dundrum Inner Bay yesterday morning. The bay lies on the south County Down coast about 6km east of Newcastle.

The Inner Bay is almost landlocked and separated by the dune systems of Ballykinler to the north and Murlough to the south.

The kayakers, a mother, her daughter, and a friend, had launched their kayaks at the slipway opposite Dundrum chapel in the Main Street, on a falling tide and paddled towards the channel between Murlough Nature Reserve and Ballykinler Army Camp.

Dundrum Inner Bay is almost landlocked and separated by the dune systems of Ballykinler to the north and Murlough to the south.Dundrum Inner Bay is almost landlocked and separated by the dune systems of Ballykinler to the north and Murlough to the south

With the tide surging out of the Inner Bay and towards the open sea, the three kayaks were swept towards the bar mouth. Conditions were rough at the time and the group were hailed on a tannoy by Range Controllers who saw them from the nearby army camp and who advised them to turn around. With the three kayakers caught in the grip of the tide, one of them managed to call Belfast Coastguard who immediately tasked Newcastle RNLI inshore lifeboat and Newcastle Coastguard team to the scene.

Newcastle RNLI Coxswain, Niall McMurray, said, "Thankfully when we arrived on scene one of the kayakers had managed to make shore on the Murlough side of the channel while the other two had made shore on the Ballykinler side".

Two of the kayakers had capsized and spent some time in the water before making it ashore. The Range Controllers took care of the two people in Ballykinler while the Coastguards from Newcastle picked up the third on Murlough beach and took her to the army camp to be reunited with her group.

"We retrieved the kayaks from the water and returned to station" said Niall McMurray.

"All three kayakers were well equipped with lifejackets, radios and mobile phones but unfortunately got caught out by the strength of a surging tide which swept them towards the bar mouth which was rough because of the south wind".

The RNLI would advise all kayakers to always carry a means of calling for help and have it stored in an easy to reach location in case of emergency. Also, consider taking a mobile phone with the SafeTrx app.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The all-weather relief fleet lifeboat RNLB Joanna and Henry Williams put to sea shortly after 1:30 pm this afternoon (Wednesday 24 March) under the command of Coxswain Nick Keogh and a volunteer crew, following a launch request from the Coast Guard.

The alarm was raised after the skipper of a 10-metre fishing vessel contacted the Coast Guard to say his vessel was caught up in ropes and unable to steer.

The lifeboat crew located the stricken vessel with two crew about four miles south-east of Wicklow harbour twenty minutes after launching. Conditions on scene were moderate sea with wind south-westerly force 5 and good visibility.

Speaking after the callout, Coxswain Nick Keogh said: ‘The crew made repeated attempts to cut the rope free from the jammed rudder, but it was decided the best option was to tow the fishing vessel back into Wicklow harbour.’

A towline was quickly established, and the fishing vessel with two crew was brought safely alongside the East pier at 2:45 pm.

The crew on the callout were Coxswain Nick Keogh, Mechanic Brendan Copeland, Lisa O’ Leary, Carol Flahive, Graham Fitzgerald and Peter Byrne.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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One of the RNLI’s busiest lifeboat stations has urged the public to be water safety aware as they anticipate the increased demand for their services to continue. Lifeboat crew at Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI have seen their launch requests significantly increase over the last twelve months as a number of factors have worked to raise demand on local lifeboat volunteers. The station, which operates two lifeboats out of the Dublin harbour has urged the public to be aware of the common causes for lifeboat callouts and to make sure they have the proper water safety advice to stay safe on or near the water.

Dun Laoghaire RNLI lifeboat crew responded to launch requests more than 100 times in 2020, an increase of over a hundred per cent on 2019 and brought 101 people to safety. The increase is attributed in part to Covid related changes in peoples use of the sea and the surge in Stay-cations.

The introduction of the new cycle path and changes to local traffic systems under the Coastal Mobility Intervention have also impacted on volunteer crews’ response times. Lifeboat crews are paged by the Coast Guard and must make their way to the station through the busy town of Dun Laoghaire to launch the lifeboats and answer the call for help. Crew can have limited information before they launch and treat every callout as an emergency. The public can help by being water safety aware.

Common causes for Dun Laoghaire’s lifeboat launches in 2020 were to swimmers in trouble, people cut off by the tide on Sandymount and boaters in difficulty. The Station hopes that if people are aware of the issues and what to do if they get into trouble before they engage in their chosen activity, then lives will be saved.

Stephen Wynne, Dun Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations ManagerStephen Wynne, Dun Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Photo: via Twitter

If going on a coastal walk check the tide times and always dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard if you see someone in trouble on or near the water. For boaters always carry a means of calling for help and wear a lifejacket.

Advice for sea swimmers

  • Always check the weather forecast and tides.
  • Never swim alone and if possible, have somebody ashore who is familiar with your plans and can observe your progress.
  • Only swim in sheltered areas and swim parallel to the shore.
  • Be visible. Wear a brightly coloured swim cap or use a tow float to increase your visibility in the water.
  • Acclimatise to cold water slowly to reduce the risk of cold-water shock.
  • If in doubt, don’t go out!

Stephen Wynne, Dun Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager added, ‘There are always challenges for lifeboat crews when responding to emergencies and our lifeboat crew have been meeting those challenges for almost two centuries. Covid has certainly seen an increase in numbers of people visiting the coast and taking up new interests including water sports. Our lifeboat volunteers have also had to deal with the effects of a new traffic scheme in the area to facilitate the works carried out under the Coastal Mobility Intervention which has added time to their journey to the station, particularly at busy times during the day.’

‘We would like to remind the public of simple and effective safety advice which could save their life. Our lifeboat crews will always respond to calls for help but as we know, seconds count in a search and rescue scenario. We are extremely grateful to the general public for their continued support and we hope the busy summer months ahead will be safe and enjoyable for water users.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The RNLI has been working with partners behind the scenes through the challenges of lockdown to recruit, train and prepare their lifeguards for what is expected to be another busy summer on Northern Ireland’s beaches.

The charity will deliver their usual lifeguard service across the Causeway Coast and in County Down this year, in its standard phased approach. Five beaches on the Causeway Coast will go on service for the Easter period, with a daily patrol from Good Friday, 2 April to Sunday, 11 April. RNLI lifeguards will then start a weekend service on the same beaches along with Tyrella in county Down from Saturday 1 May, prior to the full-time daily season starting on all 11 beaches on Saturday 26 June.

In 2020, RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland responded to 225 incidents and came to the aid of 285 people, six of whom were lives saved.

Lifeguards responded to a range of incidents and performed various actions including water rescues, casualty care and minor first aid as well as helping to reunite missing children with their families.

During last year’s season, there were approximately 358,412 visitors to RNLI lifeguarded beaches. In addition to rescues, lifeguards carried out thousands of preventative actions to keep visitors safe. This work included providing safety advice to people on weather and sea conditions as well as conducting timely interventions to ensure visitors were on the safest area of the beach and in the correct flag zone for their specific activity.

Speaking ahead of the Easter period which will see a daily patrol from 11am to 7pm on Benone, Portstewart, Portrush East, Portrush West and Whiterocks until Sunday, 11 April, Karl O’Neill, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor, said:

‘RNLI lifeguards are at the forefront of the charity’s lifesaving work, offering preventative safety advice to visitors and rescuing those in difficulty in the water. Not only do they receive the best training but the best equipment too, so they are able to deal with any emergency situation as professional first responders.

‘Each year the RNLI works in partnership with our local authorities and landowners to set up and roll out the lifeguard service, which is complex in normal times even without the challenges of doing so during a pandemic. However, we have been here before, and with the added benefit of being able to plan ahead, we have developed contingencies should things change.

‘The protocols and measures introduced last year because of coronavirus will continue. We are working with local authorities and landowners, who ask us to provide a lifeguard service on their beaches, to make sure the environment for lifeguards to return to is safe. We will continue to monitor the risk to our people and the public in relation to the pandemic.’

The daily full-time seasonal service will be extended to Downhill, Castlerock and Ballycastle on the Causeway Coast and to Murlough and Cranfield in county Down from Saturday 26 June.

The RNLI is encouraging the public to follow government advice on social distancing, travel and contact with others when visiting the beach to keep themselves and lifeguards safe.

Michael Thompson, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said: ‘RNLI lifeguards play a vital role in keeping beach visitors safe, but they can’t be everywhere, so will be supported by the charity’s 24/7 lifeboat service and water safety work. This comprehensive water safety education programme involves working with partners, local communities and the public to help everyone enjoy a safe visit to the coast.

‘Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but it is important to remember it can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during spring and early summer when air temperatures are warm but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock. We’d therefore remind anyone entering the water to take extra care and avoid unnecessary risks as early season conditions are more challenging.

‘Whatever your chosen activity though, basic precautions can greatly reduce the risk of getting into difficulty, and also improve your chance of being found quickly should you need rescuing. For activities like kayaking and paddleboarding we’d recommend you carry a means of calling for help on you, such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch, and ensure you are wearing the right kit. A wetsuit will keep you warm and help you float in an emergency but wearing an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket is still vital. For open water swimmers and dippers, please also remember to acclimatise slowly and be visible with a bright hat.’

The RNLI is urging anyone choosing to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice along with the government’s advice on travel and social distancing:

Beach safety advice

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

You can keep up to date with relevant water safety advice on social media by searching #RespectTheWater so that you can have an enjoyable and safe time at the coast.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew were asked to launch their all-weather lifeboat from Inis Mór last night (Sunday 21 March) for a local man on the neighbouring island of Inis Meáin who sustained a facial injury and was in need of further medical attention.

The lifeboat launched under coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew and headed straight for Inis Meáin. Conditions at the time of launching were good, with calm seas, a slight breeze and clear visibility.

Once at the pier in Inis Meáin, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew.

Following all strict Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, the lifeboat then processed straight for Rossaveal Harbour on the mainland and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “There was a quick response time by the volunteer crew to get the patient to the medical attention needed. The crew never hesitate to answer their pagers when they go off.

“We would like to wish the patient a speedy recovery.”

The callout came just days after the lifeboat crew were tasked with a double medevac amid poor visibility last Monday, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Page 5 of 226

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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