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A motorboat that became propped up on pot buoys in Baltimore Harbour at the weekend made a direct call for help to the local RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat which was returning to base nearby.

The incident occurred on Saturday evening (7 September) after the Baltimore lifeboat had just completed a training exercise with the Irish Coast Guard’s Waterford-based helicopter Rescue 117.

Lifeboat press officer Kate Callanan said: “The skipper of the motorboat realised immediately that he needed assistance and as he had been watching the lifeboat and helicopter demonstration minutes before, he knew that the quickest way to alert the lifeboat was to call them directly on channel 16 on his VHF.”

Within minutes the all-weather lifeboat — with coxswain Kieran Cotter, mechanic Cathal Cottrell and crew members Emma Lupton, Ronnie Carthy, David Ryan, Jim Griffiths, Ryan O’Mahony and Eoin Ryan — was alongside the 33ft motor vessel.

Another motorboat skippered by former lifeboat crewman Torsten Marten was also nearby at the time, and he was drafted to assist in transferring two lifeboat crew to the casualty vessel rather than having to launch the lifeboat’s Y-boat.

The casualty boat was then secured alongside the all-weather lifeboat and brought to the safety of Baltimore’s North Pier.

Callanan reminded all boaters: “It is vital for anyone going to sea to always carry a means of communication such as a mobile phone or VHF in order to raise the alarm should they require help.”

The callout came on the eve of Baltimore RNLI’s centenary celebration yesterday (Sunday 8 September), at which it named its new Atlantic 85 inshore vessel 100 years to the date since the arrival of its first ever lifeboat.

Elsewhere, Skerries RNLI launched on Thursday night (5 September) to tow a razor fishing boat with two on board that struck rocks off Red Island and damaged its steering.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore RNLI’s new Atlantic 85 lifeboat will be officially named Rita Daphne Smyth during a ceremony at the North Pier at 3pm this Sunday 8 September.

As part of the station’s centenary celebrations, the lifeboat, which was placed on service earlier this year, will be officially named exactly 100 years on from the day the first lifeboat, The Shamrock, arrived in the West Cork coastal village.

The RNLI says the new lifeboat has been funded by a generous legacy from the late Rita Daphne Smyth and replaces the station’s Atlantic 75 class lifeboat Alice and Charles.

The Atlantic 85 is the latest version of the B class, introduced into the fleet in 2005 — powered by two 115HP engines and with a stronger hull and greater top speed.

The self-righting vessel comes with radar and a full suite of communication and and navigation aids, as well as a searchlight, night-vision equipment and flares for night-time operations.

Tom Bushe, Baltimore’s lifeboat operations manager said that to receive and name a new lifeboat during the station’s centenary celebrations was something special.

“Our volunteers and the Baltimore community are delighted and excited to name our new inshore lifeboat exactly 100 years on from the day the very first lifeboat arrived at our station. We are most grateful to the late Rita Daphne Smyth for her generous legacy which has funded our lifeboat.

“Volunteers from the local community have been crewing a lifesaving service here for 100 years and we will be proud custodians of this new lifeboat, which will go on to rescue and save many more lives in the years ahead.”

When Baltimore saw The Shamrock begin service in 1919, it was the fourth lifeboat station in Co Cork. Since then, Baltimore RNLI’s lifeboats have launched more that 940 times and their crews have rescued 867 people including 280 lives saved.

The Shamrock remained in service until 1950 when a new Watson class lifeboat, Sarah Tilson, was placed on service. In 1978, the Sarah Tilson was replaced by another Watson class lifeboat called The Robert, which was replaced six years later was replaced by an Oakley class lifeboat called Charles Henry. In February 1988, a new Tyne class lifeboat, Hilda Jarett, was placed on service.

In April 2008, a second lifeboat, an inshore Atlantic 75 called Bessie, joined the station to complement the existing all-weather lifeboat. In February 2012 a new Tamar class lifeboat, Alan Massey, replaced the Hilda Jarrett.

In July the following year a complete refurbishment of the lifeboat house was finished, leaving the station with state-of-the-art facilities.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Nearly five years into his epic project to photograph every RNLI lifeboat station with a Victorian-era camera, Jack Lowe this week began the Northern Ireland leg of the mammoth undertaking.

Starting yesterday (Tuesday 3 September) at Red Bay, Lowe’s four-week swing also includes Portrush tomorrow (Thursday 5 September), then Enniskillen, Carrybridge, Newcastle, Kilkeel, Portaferry, Donaghadee, Bangor and Larne before he returns home to Newcastle-upon-Tyne — via Portpatrick and Stranraer in Scotland.

Lowe will capture each lifeboat station and its crew using wet plate collodion, a process developed in the 1850s — when the RNLI also began — that creates stunning images on glass.

Following this 19th leg, the end of The Lifeboat Station Project will be in sight as the remaining station count will be down to double figures.

When completed, The Lifeboat Station Project will be the very first time every station on the RNLI network been documented as one complete body of work. It is also one of the biggest photographic projects ever undertaken, the RNLI says.

As with the rest of his adventure, Lowe travelled to Northern Ireland on Monday (2 September) with ‘Neena’, a decommissioned NHS ambulance purchased on eBay, which he converted into a mobile darkroom.

Along the way Lowe has been sharing the ups and downs of his mission on social media. He also makes videos and sound recordings, enabling his followers to get a real sense of what life is like within lifeboat communities.

Almost a year ago, Lowe reached the halfway mark of his epic project that previously took him to Ireland’s South Coast, where he completed his 100th station in Valentia.

By the end of September 2018, he estimates to have used around 1,500 glass plates, 120 litres of developer and 45 litres of collodion.

Lowe had also driven some 28,000 miles — the equivalent of more than once round the world.

“It’s a privilege spending time with so many lifeboat volunteers, preserving their bravery and devotion for future generations,” Lowe says.

“This journey is unprecedented in so many ways. The further I travel, the deeper the body of work becomes on just about every level and in ways that I could never have foreseen or imagined.”

The Lifeboat Station Project’s dedicated website has links to Lowe’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, as well as his Patreon campaign.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Northern Ireland lifeboat crews marked the end of the summer season with a number of callouts over the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon (31 August) Portaferry’s inshore lifeboat wad called out to reports that two Flying Fifteen keelboats had capsized on Strangford Lough.

On arrival it was found both vessels had been righted and were returning to shore, Portaferry RNLI said.

But while out on the lough, the lifeboat crew were also tasked to aid a 36ft yacht which had run aground on Don O’Neill Island some four miles away.

At the scene, the lifeboat crew ensured that all on the yacht and their dog were safety aboard their vessel and that there was no water being taken on.

The following afternoon (Sunday 1 September), the inshore lifeboat launched to a motorboat with two adults and three children that had run aground in the Narrows.

Another vessel had taken the casualty boat under tow to deeper water and the lifeboat crew followed up by escorting the motorboat to Portaferry Marina.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Carrybridge RNLI’s inshore lifeboat and rescue water craft were launched to a vessel with four on board which had grounded west of the Share Centre on Upper Lough Erne.

After carefully navigating the shallow waters and assessing the condition of the two adults and two children on board, the lifeboat crew checked the vessel for water ingress and none was found.

With the owner’s permission, the volunteer crew set up a tow line and proceeded to refloat the casualty vessel in deeper water.

The barge was again checked for water ingress and the steering and propulsion also checked before they were allowed to continue their journey.

Carrybridge lifeboat operations manager Stephen Scott reminded all boaters to plan their routes carefully using revenant charts to avoid difficulties in unexpectedly shallow waters.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Five people were rescued off North Co Antrim yesterday afternoon (Friday 30 August) when their 33ft yacht got into difficulty near Rathlin Island.

Red Bay RNLI’s volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat 1.20pm following a report that the yacht was struggling to make headway in difficult conditions at sea some five miles south-east of Rathlin.

Two of the crew onboard the yacht — which was on passage to Carrickfergus — were also suffering from seasickness, Red Bay RNLI says.

The lifeboat crew set up a tow and brought the vessel to Ballycastle. Speaking later, Red Bay RNLI press officer Paddy McLaughlin said: “Conditions at sea were challenging this afternoon and the crew made the right decision to call for help.”

Elsewhere, Clifden RNLI in Connemara launched its new all-weather lifeboat for the first time on Thursday afternoon (29 August) to reports of a RIB adrift and in danger in Ballinakill Bay between Letterfrack and Renvyle.

However, it was the D class inshore lifeboat Celia Mary which was first on the scene — where volunteers found two people on a 5.5m RIB with engine failure that was very close to the rocky shore in worsening weather conditions, with a Force 6 wind at the time.

Lifeboat helm Thomas Davis agreed with the two people on board the RIB that the vest course of action was a tow back to shore, which was safely completed.

Davis said: “We were glad to be able to help these people recover their boat today.

“We also wish to remind all water users in Connemara to contact the coastguard or emergency services at the earliest opportunity when things go wrong — we would always rather launch and be stood down than risk other possible outcomes.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Two people were evacuated from the Aran Islands for medical reasons by the area’s RNLI lifeboat yesterday (Wednesday 28 August).

At 4.50pm the all-weather lifeboat David Kirkaldy called to launch from Inis Mór to neighbouring Inis Meain where an elderly man had been injured in a fall.

Under coxswain John O’Donnell and a full crew onboard, the Severn class lifeboat braved difficulty conditions, with choppy 1.5-metres seas and Force 5-6 west to south-westerly wind, to transfer the casualty to the waiting ambulance in Rossaveal.

Later in the evening, just after 11pm, the volunteer crew were called out for another medevac, this time to a sick man elsewhere on Inis Mór who required further treatment, Aran Islands RNLI says.

Despite the even worse conditions at sea, the man was safely transferred to Rossaveal and the waiting paramedics.

O’Donnell said later: “Yesterday was a busy one for the volunteer crew members but they are always ready to answer the call and happy to help out. We would like to wish both patients a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Kilkeel’s volunteer lifeboat crew worked fast to help clear a speedboat with engine troubles from a busy shipping lane yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 27 August).

The 16ft Bayliner, with one person on board, had broken down in Carlingford Lough and was in danger from incoming and outgoing shipping traffic, according to Kilkeel RNLI.

Kilkeel’s inshore lifeboat launched at 1.10pm headed south along the Co Down coast, and on arrival at the scene they found that the speedboat has been restarted.

Checking that the skipper was fine, they ensured there were no further issues before escorting the skipper back to his mooring in Greencastle.

The previous evening, Carrybridge RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Douglas Euan & Kay Richards and rescue water craft were launched to a vessel with its own engine difficulties some two miles downstream of the River Erne hamlet.

When the lifeboats arrived on scene, the casualty vessel — with two person on bard — was found floating close to the shoreline.

Once those on board were found to be well, a volunteer from the rescue water craft boarded their vessel to help set up a tow line and it was brought back to its private berth in the hamlet.

Carrybridge RNLI helm Chris Cathcart later advised all boat users: “Before setting out on your journey, please plan your route and carry out regular checks of their vessels. Also have a means of calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble.

“If you see someone in trouble on the water or are in difficulties yourself, the number to dial is 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew were kept busy with two callouts in quick succession on yesterday’s Bank Holiday (Monday 26 August), while the Portaferry lifeboat had an early-hours launch to aid a yacht run around in Strangford Lough.

Larne’s inshore lifeboat Terry launched in calm seas to reports of an inflatable driving out to sea at Ballygally beach, Larne RNLI says.

After a brief search of the area, the inflatable was recovered, deflated and returned to its own owner, who was offered some advice on water safety.

Shortly after, while the crew were recovering the inshore lifeboat at East Antrim Boat Club, reports came through from the Portmuck Coastguard mobile team of a paddle boarder in difficulty just off Muck Island, near Islandmagee.

Relaunching at 3.30pm, the lifeboat approached the island to search for the casualty and were directed to his location by a passing’s jetskier.

When the lifeboat crew reached the boarder, Larne RNLI says they learned that the man had been on the water with his two daughters and hadn’t realised the currents had been taking them further out to sea.

One of the girls made it back to shore, but the father and his other daughter were in difficulty — however, the jetskier realised their predicament and offered to take the other girl back to shore while the father called for help.

By the time the lifeboat reached him he had been fighting the currents for 45 minutes and was tired.

After assessing him for injuries, he and his board were brought into Portmuck at Islandmagee.

Inshore lifeboat helm Pamela Leitch said following the callouts: “Please be aware of the strong currents and crosswinds around our coastline. It doesn’t take much for someone to get into real difficulty when they are blown out to sea.”

Much earlier in the day, Portaferry RNLI’s volunteers were tasked by Belfast Coastguard to assist a yacht with two on board that had run aground on Roe Island in Strangford Lough.

The inshore lifeboat launched under little moonlight at 12.50am and were on scene 28 minutes later, taking the yacht under tow to a safe place to anchor.

Portaferry RNLI press officer Jordan Conway said: “The yacht’s crew made the right decision to call for help as there was a falling tide and the situation could have got a lot worse.

“We would remind everyone planning a trip at sea to always respect the water. Always wear a lifejacket, always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Dun Laoghaire RNLI launched to a 34ft yacht unexpectedly dismasted while sailing near Dalkey Island yesterday afternoon (Sunday 25 August).

The skipper aboard the yacht was able to call the coastguard by VHF radio, and the volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch the all-weather Anna Livia at 2.15pm in calm conditions, Dun Laoghaire RNLI reports.

Once on the scene, the lifeboat crew checked that the skipper was safe and uninjured, then he and his yacht were towed back to Dun Laoghaire.

Speaking after the callout, Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s coxswain Mark McGibney said: “In this situation where the yacht unexpectedly dismasted, the skipper was able to alert the coastguard as thankfully he had a backup handheld VHF radio. It is also essential to always carry a means of communication.”

Hours before, Larne RNLI was requested to launch by Belfast coastguard to reports of a sinking vessel with two people on board.

Launching both of their lifeboats, Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew made their way towards the casualty vessel’s reported position, just outside of Larne Harbour.

While en route, the inshore lifeboat Terry was stopped by a passing pleasure craft which reported they had recovered the two people from the casualty vessel, who were found to be safe and well and were returned to shore on the all-weather lifeboat.

Larne RNLI inspect the submerged vessel | Photo: RNLI/Derek ReaLarne RNLI inspect the submerged vessel | Photo: RNLI/Derek Rea

Later both lifeboats were requested to survey the casualty vessel to see if anything could be salvaged — but by then it was mostly submerged, as Larne RNLI reports.

Earlier in this Bank Holiday weekend for Northern Ireland, Kilkeel RNLI launched late on Friday (23 August) to attend a 10m yacht with two on board which had become stranded with a rope in the propeller.

Kilkee RNLI says the volunteer crew located the yacht Villa Vilja — which was on passage from Tromso, Norway to the Caribbean — seven miles north-east of Kilkeel in freshening conditions.

And with the yacht tossing about in the rough seas, the lifeboat helm brought the lifeboat safely aside and a crew member boarded the yacht to check all was well to establish a tow.

Despite the challenging conditions, the yacht was brought safely into Kilkeel Harbour where the local coastguard team ensured it was safely and securely berthed at the pontoon.

Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Fisher said: “The transfer of a crew member to another vessel is a manoeuvre the crew often practice but with both boats being tossed about, the transfer was particularly difficult — but was managed, as usual, in a very safe professional manner and we wish the sailors a safe onward passage to the Caribbean.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Wicklow RNLI brought two people and three dogs to safety yesterday afternoon (Saturday 24 August) after their 33ft motor cruiser got fouled in ropes off the Wicklow coast.

The all-weather lifeboat Jock & Annie Slater put to sea shortly at 11am, and 35 minutes later located the stricken Welsh motor cruiser 11 miles north east of Wicklow Harbour.

A towline was established and the cruiser was taken in tow back to Wicklow Harbour, but as they approached the harbour the skipper of the cruiser reported his vessel was taking on water.

As a precaution, the crew prepared a pump and the inshore lifeboat was launched to assist. However, the water was cleared with a bilge pump and the lifeboat pump was not required, Wicklow RNLI says.

It added that the motor cruiser was brought alongside the East Pier shortly before 2pm and the two people and three dogs were landed safely ashore.

Much earlier, Baltimore RNLI in West Cork was called out to a yacht in difficulty south of Sherkin Island.

The inshore lifeboat was launched at 12.31am to assist a 30ft yacht, with two people onboard, that was in difficulty in the Gascanane Sound.

The lifeboat reached the casualty vessel within 20 minutes and found the yacht’s crew to be well before escorting their vessel to the north pier in Baltimore.

They assessed the situation and once the lifeboat crew were happy that the crew on board the vessel were okay, they escorted the vessel to the north pier in Baltimore.

Baltimore RNLI press officer Kate Callanan said: “Although they were not in any immediate danger, the crew of the yacht did the right thing in alerting the coastguard [who tasked the lifeboat].

“At the time of the call there was heavy fog, and the area they were in is notorious for strong tides.

“If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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