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Baltimore RNLI lifeboat were called out to provide assistance to a yacht with two people onboard that got into difficulty off the coast of Cape Clear Island, West Cork, earlier on Tuesday (21 June).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 11.57 am, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a 28-foot yacht, with two people on board, which was propped on a pot buoy near Bird Island off Cape Clear Island in West Cork.

The Baltimore inshore lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 12.10 pm. The volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat were able to free the casualty vessel from the trailing fishing gear however as there was still rope wrapped tightly around the propellor, Helm Kieran Collins decided that undertaking a tow was necessary. Volunteer crew member David Ryan was put aboard the casualty vessel to assist rigging a tow from the lifeboat, and both the lifeboat and casualty vessel were underway by 12.26 pm. The lifeboat then proceeded to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port, arriving at 1.20 pm. Once the casualty vessel was secured alongside the pier in Baltimore Harbour, the lifeboat returned to the station, arriving at 1.25 pm.

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Helm Kieran Collins and crew members James Kitt, Kieran O’Driscoll and David Ryan. Assisting at the station were Jerry Smith and Rianne Smith. Conditions at sea during the call were calm with a westerly force 1-2 wind and no sea swell.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘The occupants of the yacht did the right thing in calling for help as soon as they had become propped and before any further difficulties arose. If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Baltimore RNLI were called out earlier today (Thursday 16 June) to provide assistance to a yacht with two people onboard that was taking part in a race.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 11.45am, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a 7m sailing yacht with two people on board, that had got into difficulty 0.5 miles south of Sherkin Island off the coast of West Cork.

The Baltimore inshore lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 11.50am. Volunteer crew member Rob O’Leary was put aboard the casualty vessel to assist in rigging a tow passed to the yacht from the lifeboat.

The inshore lifeboat, with the casualty vessel under tow, then proceeded to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port. The lifeboat crew secured the casualty vessel at the pier in Baltimore Harbour, and once they made sure that the sailors were happy the lifeboat returned to the station, arriving at 12.33pm.

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Helm Pat O’Driscoll and crew members Ian Lynch, James Kitt and Rob O’Leary. Assisting at the lifeboat station were Rianne Smith and Sean McCarthy. Conditions at sea during the call were calm with a south-easterly force 1 wind, no sea swell and good visibility.

Speaking following the call out, Pat O’Driscoll, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Helm said: ‘Due to navigational difficulties the sailors were having we decided a tow was necessary and the safest option to assist them. Please remember if you get into difficulty at sea, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Baltimore RNLI was called out to provide assistance to a yacht with four people on board that got into difficulty 52 miles off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork, yesterday (Sunday 5 June).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat just before 1 pm, following requests from the Irish Coast Guard and the UK Coastguard to go to the assistance of a 36-foot motor yacht, with four people on board, which had encountered difficulties and was 52 miles south of Baltimore.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 3.22 pm. After making sure all four people on board were okay, Coxswain Aidan Bushe assessed the situation and decided that undertaking a tow was necessary and the safest way to assist the casualties.

Crew members from the lifeboat passed a tow to the yacht and the lifeboat and casualty vessel were underway by 3.30 pm. The lifeboat then proceeded to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port, and secured the casualty vessel at the pontoon at 10.14pm. The lifeboat then returned to the station, arriving at 10.25 pm.

There were six volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Micheal Cottrell and crew members Pat Collins, David Ryan, Colin Whooley and Jim Griffiths. Conditions at sea during the call were choppy with an easterly force 3-4 wind, a 1.1m sea swell and good visibility.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘It was a long callout for our volunteer lifeboat crew who spent over 9 hours at sea, but the occupants of the yacht did the right thing in requesting assistance. We wish them well with the rest of their journey. If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Baltimore RNLI was called out to provide assistance to a yacht with one person onboard that got into difficulty off the coast of the West Cork town on Saturday evening (21 May).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 6.12pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the aid of a 29ft motor yacht, with one person onboard, which was propped on a pot line 1.5 miles southwest of Kedge Island off Baltimore Harbour.

Conditions at sea during the call were choppy with a south westerly Force 3-4 wind, a 1.5m sea swell and good visibility.

Arriving at the casualty vessel at 6.25pm, the lifeboat put volunteer crew member Stuart Musgrave aboard the casualty vessel to assist the lone sailor.

Musgrave was able to free the yacht from the line coming from the bottom of the sea, but there was still rope wrapped heavily around the propeller that couldn’t be freed.

Lifeboat helm Kieran Collins decided that a tow was necessary, and by 6.50pm the boats were under way proceeding to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port, where they arrived at 7.20pm. Once the casualty vessel was secured at the pier, the lifeboat returned to the station.

This was the second callout of the week for Baltimore RNLI, after the station’s all-weather lifeboat responded to a medevac call to Sherkin Island on Thursday 19 May.

Speaking following the weekend response, press office Kate Callanan said: “If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coast Gguard.”

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat for this callout, with Micheal Cottrell and Kieran O’Driscoll alongside Collins and Musgrave.

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Baltimore RNLI were called out to provide a medical evacuation yesterday (Thursday 30 December) from Cape Clear Island off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 9.26 am, following a request to bring a doctor to the island and provide a medical evacuation.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at North Harbour in Cape Clear Island at 9.52 am The casualty was transferred by stretcher onboard the lifeboat and they departed the Island at 10.05 am. The lifeboat returned to the station in Baltimore arriving at 10.30 am and the casualty was handed over to the care of HSE Ambulance crew at 10.35 am.

There were five volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Micheal Cottrell and crew members David Ryan, Kieran Collins and Jerry Smith. Our station medical advisor, Dr Don Creagh, accompanied the crew on the call. Conditions at sea during the call out were poor with a south-westerly force 4 wind, a 2m sea swell and fog with visibility of 1 nautical mile.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘If you find yourself in a medical emergency whilst on an island don’t hesitate call 999 or 112.

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A brother and sister who volunteer to save lives at sea with Valentia RNLI have called on the public to support the charity’s Christmas Appeal.

Dominic and Cornelia Lyne will be on call, along with their colleagues at the Kerry lifeboat station and RNLI volunteers at 45 other lifeboat stations across Ireland, ready to launch at a moment’s notice to save lives.

Cornelia and Dominic grew up in a house where the RNLI lifeboat pager going off was a familiar sound. The siblings are the children of former volunteer lifeboat crew member Nealie Lyne, who after 25 years saving lives at sea is now a deputy launching authority at the station.

Dominic says: “Because we are family, once you put on the gear, we are all in it together and we have to ensure we all come home to those waiting for us.”

Cornelia is very proud of being a female crew member in the RNLI and hopes to inspire other women to join, too.

“I’m nearly 10 years a crew member and I still love it when we have landed home safe after a callout during the summer when there are a lot of tourists around and the kids see me walking up to the boathouse in my full gear and they realise girls can join the crew too.

“When the pagers go, no lifeboat volunteer hesitates to answer the call, and these rescues would not be possible without the donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit [and] training equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round. Thank you to everyone who supports the appeal this Christmas.”

James Kitt joined Baltimore RNLI after relocating to the West Cork town with his Irish girlfriend Emma | Credit: RNLIJames Kitt joined Baltimore RNLI after relocating to the West Cork town with his Irish girlfriend Emma | Credit: RNLI

Meanwhile, in neighbouring West Cork, one of Baltimore RNLI’s newest recruits is James Kitt, who joined the lifeboat station after relocating with his Irish girlfriend Emma.

Baltimore RNLI is one of eight lifeboat stations based in Cork, along with Castletownbere, Courtmacsherry, Union Hall, Kinsale, Crosshaven, Ballycotton and Youghal.

James was previously volunteer lifeboat crew at Chiswick on the Thames in London, one of the busiest of the charity’s lifeboat stations.

Born in Poole in Dorset, he met Emma in the States at a sailing event and the couple decided to relocate to Ireland before the pandemic, moving to Dublin.

When the first lockdown came, the couple relocated to Baltimore with James working remotely for an Irish aid organisation. Having swapped the busy London life for West Cork, he says he couldn’t be happier finding a station where he can use his lifeboat training.

“I’m one of a number of new joiners to the lifeboat crew in Baltimore and the level of maritime experience and expertise here is incredible,” he says. “Although it’s not surprising when you see the love of the sailing here. I’m learing so much from my colleagues and getting into the West Cork way of life. Emma and I love it here and feel very much at home.

“Baltimore lifeboat is so embedded in the community, something that’s a little harder to achieve at a busy London station. When there is a callout here everyone is aware of it and the whole place gets behind the crew, it’s fantastic.

“When the pager goes, no lifeboat volunteer hesitates to answer the call, and I know first hand that these rescues would not be possible without the donations from the RNLI's generous supporters.”

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

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore RNLI were called out twice within 12 hours today (Saturday 4 September), firstly to provide assistance to two people when their vessel went aground, and secondly to provide assistance to a sailing boat that had capsized.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 6.16 am, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a 50 foot converted trawler, with two people on board, which had run aground in the Ilen River, near Old Court in West Cork.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 6.45 am and Coxswain Aidan Bushe immediately assessed the situation. There was no obvious damage done to the trawler and given the fact the tide was falling and she was hard aground, the decision was made not to attempt to refloat her. Baltimore Lifeboat volunteer crew members launched their y-boat and crew members Jerry Smith and Colin Whooley made their way over to the casualty vessel and took two people off the vessel and brought them back to the lifeboat. The lifeboat crew then retrieved the y-boat and the lifeboat made its way back to Baltimore, dropping the two people at the pier before returning to Baltimore lifeboat station at 8.07 am.

At high tide this afternoon the skipper of the casualty vessel managed to refloat the vessel without any further assistance from Baltimore RNLI.

There were six volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat this morning, Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Cathal Cottrell and crew members Sean McCarthy, Don O’Donovan, Jerry Smith and Colin Whooley. Conditions during the call were calm with a north easterly force 2-3 wind, no sea swell and good visibility.

Baltimore all-weather lifeboat pumps out the Y boat  Photo: RNLI/Micheal Cottrell Baltimore all-weather lifeboat pumps out the casualty dinghy  Photo: RNLI/Micheal Cottrell

The volunteer lifeboat crew were also called to launch their all-weather lifeboat at approximately 4.18 pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the immediate assistance of an 18ft sailing sloop, with three people on board, which was sinking in Baltimore Harbour.

When Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 4.24 pm the three people on board had been taken off by the Baltimore Sailing Club crash boat, and the vessel was full of water. The volunteer lifeboat crew immediately readied their onboard salvage pump and proceeded to pump the vessel dry. A local rib that was also in the vicinity at the time assisted in stabilising the casualty vessel whilst it was being pumped out. Once all the water was pumped out the assisting rib towed the casualty vessel back to its mooring within the harbour. Baltimore lifeboat then returned to station arriving at 4.54 pm.

There were five volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat during the second callout, Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Cathal Cottrell and crew members Jerry Smith, Jim Griffiths and Conor Harrington. Conditions within the harbour during the second call were calm with an easterly force 4 wind, no sea swell and good visibility.

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Baltimore RNLI was launched earlier this evening (Thursday 5 August) following the activation of an alarm from a personal locator beacon within Baltimore Harbour in West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 6.54 pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to help locate an active Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) which was going off within the anchorage area of Baltimore Harbour.

Baltimore inshore lifeboat proceeded to the area using their onboard direction-finding equipment to locate where the beacon was going off. The equipment brought them to a yacht at anchor with people onboard.

Unbeknownst to the crew aboard the yacht, the PLB was active in one of their life jackets. Once the PLB was deactivated the lifeboat received confirmation from the Irish Coast Guard that they could return to the station.

They proceeded to Baltimore lifeboat station, arriving at 7.11 pm.

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Helm Micheal Cottrell and crew members Kieran O’Driscoll, Kieran Collins and Ryan O’Mahony. Assisting at the boathouse were Jerry Smith and Seamus O’Driscoll. Conditions within the harbour during the call were calm with a westerly force 5 wind and 0.5m sea swell.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘Thankfully the activation of the alarm today was not due to someone in danger, but this call does highlight how important a PLB is and how well the equipment onboard the lifeboat can accurately locate one that is activated. If you get into difficulty at sea or along the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Baltimore RNLI launched on back-to-back callouts in West Cork on Sunday evening (25 July), including a medevac and a motorboat taking on water.

The first launch was at 8.15pm to reports of a 23ft motorboat taking on water at Church Strand within Baltimore Harbour.

Arriving on scene just two minutes later, the all-weather lifeboat volunteers put crewman John Kearney was put aboard the casualty vessel to assess the situation.

The leak was plugged using a wooden dowel plug from the lifeboat, and the casualty vessel was able to make it own way to the pier in Baltimore under escort from the inshore lifeboat.

While the volunteer inshore lifeboat crew were still in the boathouse after that callout, a second request came from the Irish Coast Guard for a medevac from Cape Clear Island.

The all-weather lifeboat crew launched at 9.15pm and proceeded to Cape Clear’s North Harbour 25 minutes later to retrieve the patient, a girl who had been injured in an accident on the island.

Upon return to the station at 10.15pm, the lifeboat volunteers handed the girl over to the care of the waiting HSE ambulance crew.

Conditions at sea during both calls were flat calm with a south-westerly Force 2 wind, no sea swell and good visibility.

Speaking following the callouts, press officer Kate Callanan said: “It was a busy evening for Baltimore RNLI and our volunteer crews with our inshore and all-weather lifeboats on back-to-back calls. If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore RNLI’s volunteer crew were called out to reports of a boat on fire off Sherkin Island in West Cork yesterday afternoon (Saturday 10 July).

Under coxswain Aidan Bushe, the all-weather lifeboat launched at 3.34pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to attend the blaze on RIB in Horseshoe Harbour.

The lifeboat arrived at the scene five minutes later and found that the occupants of the RIB had already been removed to another vessel and all were safe.

Volunteers used their onboard fire hose on the burning vessel but unfortunately the RIB was beyond recovery and it sank a short time later.

Speaking following the callout, Baltimore RNLI’s press officer Kate Callanan said: “There were a number of vessels in the immediate vicinity at the time this fire broke out and Baltimore RNLI would like to thank those who assisted in bringing the occupants of the RIB to safety.”

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Sharks in Irish waters

Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark. 

Irish waters provide a refuge for an array of shark species. Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry provides a habitat for several rare and endangered sharks and their relatives, including the migratory tope shark, angel shark and undulate ray. This area is also the last European refuge for the extremely rare white skate. Through a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) project, Marine Institute scientists have been working with fishermen to assess the distribution, diversity, and monthly relative abundance of skates and rays in Tralee, Brandon and Dingle Bays.

“These areas off the southwest coast of Ireland are important internationally as they hold some of the last remaining refuges for angel shark and white skate,” said Dr Maurice Clarke of the Marine Institute. “This EMFF project has provided data confirming the critically endangered status of some species and provides up-to-date information for the development of fishery measures to eliminate by-catch.” 

Irish waters are also home to the Black Mouthed Catshark, Galeus melastomus, one of Ireland’s smallest shark species which can be found in the deep sea along the continental shelf. In 2018, Irish scientists discovered a very rare shark-nursery 200 nautical miles off the west coast by the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 on a shelf sloping to 750 metres deep. 

There are two ways that sharks are born, either as live young or from egg casings. In the ‘case’ of Black Mouthed Catsharks, the nursery discovered in 2018, was notable by the abundance of egg casings or ‘mermaid’s purses’. Many sharks, rays and skate lay eggs, the cases of which often wash ashore. If you find an egg casing along the seashore, take a photo for Purse Search Ireland, a citizen science project focusing on monitoring the shark, ray and skate species around Ireland.

Another species also found by Irish scientists using the ROV Holland 1 in 2018 was a very rare type of dogfish, the Sail Fin Rough Shark, Oxynotus paradoxus. These sharks are named after their long fins which resemble the trailing sails of a boat, and live in the deep sea in waters up to 750m deep. Like all sharks, skates and rays, they have no bones. Their skeleton is composed of cartilage, much like what our noses and ears are made from! This material is much more flexible and lighter than bone which is perfect for these animals living without the weight of gravity.

Throughout history sharks have been portrayed as the monsters of the sea, a concept that science is continuously debunking. Basking sharks were named in 1765 as Cetorhinus maximus, roughly translated to the ‘big-nosed sea monster’. Basking sharks are filter feeders, often swimming with their mouths agape, they filter plankton from the water.

They are very slow moving and like to bask in the sun in shallow water and are often seen in Irish waters around Spring and early Summer. To help understand the migration of these animals to be better able to understand and conserve these species, the Irish Basking Shark Group have tagged and mapped their travels.

Remarkably, many sharks like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina have the ability to sense electricity. They do this via small pores in their skin called the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’ which are able to detect the tiny electrical impulses of a fish breathing, moving or even its heartbeat from distances of over a kilometre! Angel sharks, often referred to as Monkfish have a distinctively angelic shape, with flattened, large fins appearing like the wings of an angel. They live on the seafloor in the coastal waters of Ireland and much like a cat are nocturnal, primarily active at night.

The intricate complexity of shark adaptations is particularly noticeable in the texture of their skin. Composed of miniscule, perfectly shaped overlapping scales, the skin of shark provides them with protection. Often shark scales have been compared to teeth due to their hard enamel structure. They are strong, but also due to their intricate shape, these scales reduce drag and allow water to glide past them so that the shark can swim more effortlessly and silently. This natural flawless design has been used as inspiration for new neoprene fabric designs to help swimmers glide through the water. Although all sharks have this feature, the Leafscale Gulper Shark, Centrophorus squamosus, found in Ireland are specifically named due to the ornate leaf-shape of their scales.

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