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Tributes have been paid to Red Bay RNLI helm Gary Fyfe after his sudden death on Thursday night (8 February).

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the 46-year-old died at the scene of a single-vehicle crash in Cushendall, Co Antrim.

His funeral will take place on Sunday (11 February) with Requiem Mass in St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Church, Glenariffe at 10am.

Red Bay RNLI said Fyfe was “a giant in our lifeboat station, a natural leader who everyone turned to for advice and guidance”.

It added that this year would have seen Fyfe receive his 30-year service medal, having signed up for the RNLI as a lifeboat volunteer at the age of 17.

Gary Fyfe, as the Operations Manager of Red Bay Boats Ltd, one of the leading boat builders in Northern Ireland, had a keen interest in marine affairs across Ireland. This included Afloat.ie. He is pictured standing on the bow area of the magazine's Red Bay 7.4m cabin RIB during a recent Afloat trip on a fine day to his beloved Cushendall Harbour Photo: AfloatGary Fyfe, as the Operations Manager of Red Bay Boats Ltd, a leading boat builder in Northern Ireland, had a keen interest in marine affairs across Ireland. This included Afloat.ie. He is pictured standing in the bow area of the magazine's Red Bay 7.4m cabin RIB during a recent Afloat trip on a fine day to his beloved Cushendall Harbour Photo: Afloat

His lifeboat colleagues added: “Gary was responsible for saving many lives during his years on the Red Bay lifeboat. He never sought recognition or praise for his rescues but rather carried his achievements lightly and thought only of others.

“In our small but close community in Cushendall, Gary was an anchor for us all and his loss will be felt far and wide. His life and the selfless way he lived it, touched so many people.”

Gary Fyfe is survived by his wife Clare and children Eleanor and Alexander.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Two men were rescued by the Red Bay RNLI after their 18ft speedboat caught fire off the coast of Antrim.

The incident occurred south of Rathlin Island, and the rescue team was quickly on the scene after being alerted by the coastguard. The two men, who were in the water, were saved by a passing yacht before being transferred to the Red Bay inshore lifeboat and brought safely back to Ballycastle.

The vessel later sank at 9.40 pm.

Speaking on the callout, Red Bay RNLI Helm Gary Fyfe praised the men for making the right decision to evacuate the vessel and reminded others always to carry a means of calling for help and to wear a lifejacket.

The incident occurred during an exercise by both the All-Weather and inshore lifeboats, demonstrating their readiness to respond to emergencies.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Red Bay RNLI has rescued three people this afternoon (Wednesday 3 August) after their inflatable dinghies were swept out to sea off Cushendall on Northern Ireland’s East Antrim coast.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch both their all-weather and inshore lifeboats at 2.22pm by Belfast Coastguard after the group raised the alarm that their three inflatable dinghies had become swamped with water.

Weather conditions at the time were good with calm seas but there was a Force 4 offshore wind blowing.

The all-weather lifeboat launched under coxswain Paddy McLaughlin with four crew at 2.28pm along with the inshore lifeboat helmed by Gary Fyfe with three crew members onboard.

With the exact location unknown, the lifeboats started an immediate search of the area with the inshore lifeboat crew locating the three casualties on the swamped inflatables two miles east of Cushendall.

The three inflatable dinghies recovered by Red Bay lifeboat volunteers | Credit: RNLI/Red BayThe three inflatable dinghies recovered by Red Bay lifeboat volunteers | Credit: RNLI/Red Bay

The casualties were wet, cold and shaken from their experience. The crew worked to safely transfer them onto the all-weather lifeboat where they were then brought ashore.

Speaking following the callout, Fyfe said: “Time was of the essence this afternoon and thankfully the group had a means of communication to raise the alarm when they knew they were in difficulty. This meant we could get locate and rescue them quickly before they were in any greater danger.

“We know inflatables can be fun, but we would encourage people to remember that they are designed for pools and not the beach where they can be easily swept out to sea particularly in offshore winds like today.

“If you do bring an inflatable to the beach, make sure you choose a lifeguard beach and use it close to the shore and between the red and yellow flags. Make sure children are supervised and never use an inflatable in big waves or when the orange windsock is flying.

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

Today’s incident off Cushendall happened just 24 hours after a teenager was rescued from an inflatable unicorn blown out to sea at Strangford Lough, as reported earlier on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Five adults and four children have been rescued by lifeboat crew from Red Bay RNLI after their vessel hit a submerged object this afternoon (Sunday, 17 July) and started taking on water, near Fair Head near Ballycastle.

Lifeboat crew from Red Bay RNLI in Cushendall were requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard at 12.50 pm. The volunteer lifeboat crew located the vessel, which was taking on water and took all nine people onboard the lifeboat.

The rescued group were taken to Ballycastle Harbour and delivered into the care of the local Coastguards before lifeboat crew returned to the vessel. Once back on scene, two volunteer lifeboat crew were transferred onto the craft with a salvage pump to staunch the ingress of water and once the vessel was deemed safe, it was towed to safety, to avoid it causing an obstruction at sea.

Paddy McLaughlin, Red Bay RNLI Coxswain said, ‘It was a very serious situation for the group, which included a number of children. Conditions were good for the callout, and we are relieved it was a good outcome for all involved.’

‘With the good weather set to continue, we would advise everyone who is planning a trip on the water to take a means of communication should they need to raise the alarm and to wear a personal flotation device.’

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Six round-Britain rowers have been rescued by Red Bay RNLI amid “hugely challenging conditions” at sea off Northern Ireland.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the group were part of the GB Endurance team taking part in a coastal rowing challenge around Great Britain when they got into difficulty yesterday afternoon (Saturday 25 June).

The HM Coastguard helicopter from Prestwick in Scotland was also dispatched to the incident off Cushendall on the Co Antrim coast, while a tanker was diverted from its course to provide shelter for the rowers before their rescue by the Red Bay all-weather lifeboat.

In a statement on social media, the lifeboat station said: “Red Bay RNLI all weather lifeboat was launched this evening just after 5pm to reports of six people in difficulty on a small craft sixteen miles east of Cushendall.

“The lifeboat crew have now safely recovered all six people onboard the lifeboat in hugely challenging conditions,” it added.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Dublin Bay-based yacht broker Ronan Beirne of Leinster Boats is listing a Redbay Stormforce 7.4S RIB on his current boats for sale brokerage listings.

Described by Beirne as 'the perfect family rib', the open sea adventure vessel is available now and priced at €53,000.

The all-weather rib comes as a complete package with a Suzuki DF 250, Rollercoaster trailer, full instrumentation.

The boat is very well cared for and recently serviced.  "This rib is meticulously maintained with everything in full service," Beirne says. 

"Hesitate and you will be ashore this Summer, " Beirne adds. 

See the full advert on Afloat here.

Published in Boat Sales
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Santa Claus had to make his own way back from Rathlin Island yesterday afternoon (Sunday 19 December) after the volunteer lifeboat crew from Red Bay RNLI were diverted to go to the aid of a fishing trawler.

The 25-metre trawler with six crew on board was six miles northeast of Rathlin Island off the North Antrim coast in Northern Ireland when it requested assistance after its propeller became snagged in nets.

Thankfully the lifeboat crew were nearby as they had delivered Santa to Rathlin Island during their weekly training exercise.

Unfortunately, it meant that Santa had to take the ferry back to Ballycastle as the lifeboat crew immediately made their way to the trawler and carried out the rescue mission.

As the trawler had snagged its nets round its propellor, the lifeboat crew took the vessel under tow to Ballycastle in a four-hour operation.

Commenting on the callout, Red Bay RNLI coxswain Joe McCollam said: “We were sorry to leave Santa to make his own way home from Rathlin but we knew we were leaving him in very good hands with the local ferry crew.

“The snagged trawler was in some difficulty and the crew were not able to move the vessel. That area can be quite treacherous, and they needed to be brought to a safe harbour.

“Thankfully the lifeboat crew were nearby and able to bring them to Ballycastle. We also heard that Santa had a safe and enjoyable journey back from Rathlin and is looking forward to Christmas.”

Meanwhile, a Glasgow native who moved to Cushendall three-and-a-half years ago and has since joined the lifeboat crew at Red Bay RNLI is preparing to drop everything this Christmas if her pager sounds and there is an emergency at sea.

As the charity launches its Christmas Appeal, Hazel Imrie —who runs a hardware store in the town — is urging people across Co Antrim to help her fellow crew at Red Bay, Portrush and Larne and the thousands of other volunteer crews carrying pagers over the festivities to continue their lifesaving work.

Red Bay RNLI crew member Hazel Imrie with the station’s inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLIRed Bay RNLI crew member Hazel Imrie with the station’s inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI

“I joined the crew at Red Bay in February 2020 just before COVID hit,” Hazel says, “so unfortunately with the pandemic and restrictions, my training was disjointed, and it wasn’t until this year that I could focus on completing my assessments.

“I have always had an interest in the work of the RNLI and I knew when I moved here with my partner, who is from Cushendall, that I wanted to get involved because I could see how integral the service is to a coastal community. I wanted to give something back to the community that I was living in.”

With no prior maritime, sailing or boating experience, Hazel fully immersed herself into the rigorous training involved in becoming a crew member.

“I have valued the support of an experienced team and I have learned so much from others. Everyone has been so welcoming, and the training has been hands on, practical and a really enjoyable experience.”

Now as Hazel prepares for her pager to sound, she says there is a mixture of emotions involved ahead of her first callout: “I am excited but there is also anticipation and concern because you are going into the unknown, but I am also reassured because I know when that call does come, everyone else who turns up is experienced and will support me.”

Like Hazel, thousands of volunteer crew members around Ireland and the UK sign up to save every one from drowning — it has been the charity’s mission since 1824.

This Christmas many will leave their loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble on the water safely returned.

Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period. But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

Hazel says: “This is my first Christmas on call and I know even over the festive period, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather can be at its worst and lives can be on the line.

“We know that every time our crews go out they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case. We hope that this year’s Christmas appeal will show people just how tough it can be, but also that with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.”

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit RNLI.org/Xmas

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Red Bay RNLI launched their B class Atlantic 85 lifeboat at 9.20 am this morning (Saturday 24 April) after reports that a small fishing boat with three crew onboard was grounded on rocks one mile south of Glenarm Marina on the Antrim Coast. Glenarm is about 14 miles south of Red Bay.

Red Bay RNLI operates out of Cushendall at the foot of the table topped Lurigethan Mountain and at the meeting point of three of the Glens of Antrim; Glenaan, Glenballyemon and Glencorp. The Mull of Kintyre in Scotland is only 16 miles away across the North Channel.

In a strong easterly wind and choppy waters, the lifeboat crew were on the scene in twenty minutes and all three men were safely rescued from the craft and brought ashore.

On arrival at the scene the lifeboat crew saw the vessel stuck fast on the rocks and with visible damage to its hull. Deciding it would be too dangerous to move the vessel and with the tide dropping, the decision was taken to evacuate the crew off their vessel. Two lifeboat crew swam ashore and with the assistance of Ballycastle and Larne shore-based Coastguard units, two men were safely taken off the boat. The third man needed the aid of a stretcher and the agencies worked together to safely move him.

Commenting on the callout Red Bay RNLI Helm Connor McLaughlin said, "The fishing vessel was stuck fast on the rocky coastline and the crew were unable to move. With the tide dropping fast and visible damage to the vessel, we needed to bring them to safety as quickly as possible. Working with the local coastguard agencies, two of our crew swam to shore and brought all three of the men to safety, with one needing a stretcher to be evacuated off the small craft. The weather can turn in an instant and it's important to take note of tide times. Thankfully, all of the men were wearing lifejackets and the outcomes was a successful one".

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Red Bay and Larne RNLI came to the aid of 17 fisherman last night (Thursday 11 March) after their 35m Spanish trawler got into difficulty 11 miles east of Cushendall.

The volunteer crews at both stations were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboats just before 7.30pm following a report from Belfast Coastguard that the trawler had lost all power and was drifting into a shipping lane.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging with Storm Force 10 gusts of up to 54 knots and high seas recorded during the course of the call out.

Red Bay RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat under Coxswain Paddy McLaughlin and with five crew onboard, was on scene first to assess the situation. Larne RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat meanwhile, under Coxswain Frank Healy and with four crew members onboard, was diverted from a training exercise and made its way to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging with Storm Force 10 gusts of up to 54 knots and high seasWeather conditions at the time were challenging with Storm Force 10 gusts of up to 54 knots and high seas

Red Bay RNLI began to work with the crew of the trawler to establish a towline while the all-weather lifeboat from Larne illuminated the scene in what were dark, wet and windy conditions.

The lifeboat started a slow tow to bring the vessel back to Red Bay but the extreme weather forced the tow to part mid-way.

Larne RNLI established a second tow and brought the trawler the remainder of the way into Red Bay where it was secured at 11 pm.

Both lifeboats were requested to launch once again this morning after the trawler began to drag its anchor out of Waterfoot. In much better conditions and daylight, Red Bay RNLI safely towed the vessel into the shelter of Red Bay.

Speaking following the call out, Larne RNLI Coxswain Frank Healy said: ‘Weather conditions on scene last night were extremely challenging for all involved and I would like to commend our volunteers both here and in Red Bay for their teamwork over the three and half hours as they worked in darkness amid Force 10 winds gusting up to 54 knots and high seas. Our volunteers are highly skilled and trained for all eventualities at sea and that was certainly put to the test last night but we were delighted to help and bring the fishermen to safety.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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
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