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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

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Displaying items by tag: Portaferry

Portaferry RNLI in Northern Ireland was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard to reports of a fishing boat aground at St John’s Point early on Friday morning (5 August).

The volunteer crew’s pagers sounded at 6.24am and they made their way to St John’s point at Ardglass, where they arrived just before 7am and were joined by Newcastle RNLI with their all-weather and inshore lifeboats.

They found the 16m fishing boat, with a crew of four, was aground on a rocky coastline off St John’s Point.

Portaferry’s inshore lifeboat crew checked the fishing boat for damage before taking the four male adults onboard the lifeboat and bringing them to safety at Ardglass Marina.

Once on land, the casualties were transferred into the care of Newcastle Coastguard Rescue Team.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Chris Adair said: “This was an early morning callout for our crew and thankfully it had a successful outcome.

“We also wish to express our thanks to our colleagues in Newcastle RNLI who launched both their lifeboats and travelled to the scene. We were grateful to have them there.

“With conditions fair, the four casualties were brought to safety quickly and we wish them well.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI in Northern Ireland rescued a teenager after he drifted more than half a mile out to sea on an inflatable unicorn on Tuesday afternoon (2 August).

The volunteer crew launched the inshore lifeboat promptly at 3.45pm and made their way to Kilard Point in Strangford Lough where concerned members of the public had raised the alarm with Belfast Coastguard, the RNLI says.

The lifeboat crew located the casualty at Angus Rock within Strangford Lough and they immediately set about bringing the teenager onboard the lifeboat to checking him over for any injuries. The casualty was found to be safe and well.

The crew then proceeded back to Kilcief beach and transferred the casualty into the care of his family and the coastguard.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Ian Sands said: “We were glad to rescue the casualty this afternoon and bring him to safety. The casualty did the right thing by staying with the inflatable until help arrived.

“It is important to note that while inflatables can be fun, they are not designed for the beach where they can be easily be blown offshore.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI launched for the third time in two days on Wednesday evening (20 July) to retrieve a kayak that had drifted off Slanes Bay on Northern Ireland’s Arts Peninsula.

A member of the public raised the alarm shortly before 7.30pm after observing two children abandon a kayak when they got out of their depth in the water and decided to return to shore.

Portaferry RNLI’s volunteer crew — including new member Jesse Brown on her first callout — launched the inshore lifeboat promptly and made their way to Slanes Bay amid good weather conditions.

The kayak was located one mile off Slanes Bay at 8.05pm and the crew took it on board to prevent it becoming a risk to others on the water. The lifeboat then proceeded bay to nearby Cloughy beach and transferred the kayak into the care of the Portaferry Coastguard rescue team.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Chris Adair said: “Thankfully we were able to assist in bringing the kayak safely back to shore without it posing a danger to others.”

The previous evening, the Portaferry lifeboat launched to the aid of three casualties across two callouts in the space of two hours.

The first of these was two assist a female sea swimmer who had got into difficulty close to Killough Pier, west of Ardglass in Co Down.

As the lifeboat was en route via the Strangford Narrows, word came through that a local RIB has provided assistance and brought the swimmer ashore to the care of waiting emergency services. The crew were stood down and returned to Strangford to carry out their weekly exercise.

While out on exercise, the volunteer crew received reports from concerned kayakers of two paddleboarders struggling against the tide off Kilard Point after drifting a mile out from Kilclief Beach.

Once on scene, the volunteer crew helped the casualties aboard the lifeboat and brought them ashore to Strangford Pier.

Josh Boyd, Portaferry RNLI helm said: ‘“Clear information made it very straightforward for us to locate the two paddleboarders in the nick of time. With tide pulling the two further away from the shore, it was absolutely the correct thing for the kayakers to do in calling for help.”

As the weather gets warmer and more people travel to the coast, Portaferry RNLI reminds anyone planning a trip to sea or an activity on the water to always carry a means of calling for help, always wear a lifejacket and other appropriate protection and always check the weather and tides before going to sea.

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

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portaferry and Peel RNLI came to the aid of a kayaker who got into difficulty in the Irish Sea earlier this week.

The man, who had been kayaking from the Isle of Man to Northern Ireland from early morning on Wednesday (8 June) became fatigued and, when he couldn’t see land, raised the alarm for help.

Both the inshore lifeboat from Portaferry RNLI and the all-weather lifeboat from Peel RNLI on Mann were requested to launch.

The pagers at Portaferry RNLI sounded shortly after 5pm as the station’s operational and fundraising volunteers were enjoying a visit by the RNLI’s chief executive Mark Dowie.

The inshore lifeboat, helmed by Chris Adair and with three crew onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene some 14 miles out from the Strangford Narrows. The Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 was also tasked.

Weather conditions at the time were drizzly but there was good visibility. The sea was calm and there was a Force 3 easterly wind blowing. Once on scene at 5.58pm, the crew faced a Force 4 wind, fair visibility and a rough sea state.

The volunteer crew assessed the situation before helping the casualty out of his kayak and bringing him onboard the lifeboat.

He was then transferred to Peel RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat where he was brought inside the wheelhouse to be warmed up.

Both Portaferry and Peel lifeboat crews made their way to Portaferry with the casualty, who was checked over to ensure he was safe and well before he got warmed up with pizza and tea at the station.

Speaking following the callout, Philip Johnston, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “The casualty was wearing the appropriate gear for kayaking and made the right decision to call the coastguard for help once he found the conditions too much.

“We would like to wish him well and thank our fellow volunteers from Peel and our colleagues in the coastguard who were also on scene.

“The pagers went off as our volunteers were having a meeting with Mark Dowie, our chief executive who was visiting from England. We were delighted to update him on our lifesaving work at Portaferry RNLI and were equally delighted to be brought up to speed from him on the various work that is happening across our charity that we are all so passionate about.

“As the pagers went off, Mark commented that out of the 124 stations that he has visited so far, we were the fourth station to have a call out during his visit.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI launched to the aid of four people across three callouts on Strangford Lough over the weekend for the Northern Ireland volunteer lifeboat crew.

The first call came just after 1am on Saturday morning (28 May) when a spoken-word mayday was picked up by Belfast Coastguard reporting an incident on Strangford Lough. There were no other details provided.

Helmed by Chris Adair and with three crew members onboard, the inshore lifeboat was launched for a search of the Portaferry shoreline. The HM Coastguard helicopter Rescue 199 from Prestwick was also tasked.

After three hours of searching and with nothing found, the lifeboat was stood down and the incident was declared a false alarm with good intent.

The second callout came at 4pm on Saturday after Belfast Coastguard reported that a person on a small punt had got into difficulty in shallow waters.

After emerging from the vessel and attempting to drag it to shore, the person had reportedly got stuck in mud in Cadew Bay, south of Whiterock on Strangford Lough.

The lifeboat helmed by Adair launched and made its way to the scene, where approach was made tricky by the low water conditions.

Portaferry and Bangor Coastguard mud rescue teams were also tasked and helped bring the person and their boat ashore, and the RNLI volunteers were subsequently stood down.

The lifeboat crew were called out once again on Sunday morning (29 May) at 5.21am following a report that a 30ft yacht with three people onboard that had run aground outside Portaferry Marina.

Adair again helmed the lifeboat along with three crew members and after assessing the situation on scene, they decided the best course of action was to establish a towline and bring the grounded vessel to the nearest safe port at Portaferry Marina.

Speaking following the three callouts, Portaferry RNLI’s lifeboat press officer Jordan Conway said: “This has been a busy weekend for our volunteer lifeboat crew and we would like to commend them and out colleagues in the coastguard for their efforts in going to the aid of those in difficulty.

“We would also like to commend the person who raised the alarm with good intent for the first call out. While nothing was found, we would always much rather launch and find nothing rather than not launch at all.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The volunteer crew at Portaferry RNLI launched at the request of a stand-up paddle boarder in difficulty on Guns Island in Co Down yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 5 October).

Launching at 3.14pm in sunny weather with good visibility and a Force 5 northwesterly wind, the inshore lifeboat arrived on scene 10 minutes later and a crew member was placed on the island to assess the casualty.

The paddle boarder was beginning to suffer from mild hypothermia after having been in the water for some time prior to the lifeboat’s arrival. They were placed onboard the lifeboat and taken ashore at Ballyhornan Bay, where they were transferred to the care of Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Fergal Glynn said: ‘“he casualty was wearing appropriate clothing and had made the right decision to make himself safe on the island once they had got into difficulty.

“We would urge anyone planning to spend time on the water to be careful of the conditions and particularly the wind direction, as offshore winds can prove difficult to fight against.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lifeboat crews from Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI were involved in the rescue of a man whose cabin cruiser was in danger of sinking off Co Down yesterday (Thursday 16 September).

The volunteers were requested to launch their lifeboats at 6pm yesterday evening following a request from Belfast Coastguard to go the aid of the casualty, who had abandoned his 9m cabin cruiser and had been rescued by the crew of a nearby motorboat.

Portaferry RNLI’s inshore lifeboat — helmed by Fergal Glynn and with crew members George Toma, Rosslyn Watret and David Fisher onboard — launched immediately and made its way to the scene one mile east of Gunn’s Island, southeast of the entrance to Strangford Lough on Northern Ireland’s east coast.

Newcastle RNLI, meanwhile, launched its all-weather lifeboat under coxswain Gerry McConkey and six crew members onboard, facing Force 4-5 southerly winds and a two- to two-and-a-half-metre sea swell.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crews saw that the casualty — who had been on his way to Bangor when his vessel took on water and the engine cut out — had deployed his life raft prior to his rescue.

The crews also observed that the cruiser was partially submerged, was listing and in a spin.

Having first checked that the casualty was safe and well on the motorboat, Portaferry RNLI transferred him onto the lifeboat before doing a further assessment. The man was cold and in shock but otherwise well.

The crew took the life raft onboard and deflated it before bringing the casualty to the nearest safe port at Ardglass, where they transferred the casualty into the care of Portaferry Coastguard.

Remaining at the scene, Newcastle RNLI proceeded to deal with the casualty vessel, with some crew working to establish an alongside tow while other crew members started the lifeboat’s salvage pump.

Due to the sea conditions, a decision was made to keep the pump onboard the lifeboat and instead pass the hose onto the boat to relieve the ingress of water.

In calmer waters and in the entrance of Strangford Lough, two crew members were transferred onto the vessel to assess the extent of the flooding. The lifeboat then proceeded to tow the vessel safely back to Strangford Lough.

Speaking following the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Fergal Glynn said: “We would like to wish the casualty well following his ordeal yesterday evening and commend the crew of the motorboat who were first on scene and rescued him.

“This operation was a team effort with our colleagues from Newcastle RNLI and Portaferry Coastguard all playing their part to bring both the man and the vessel to safety.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI came to the aid of two men this morning (Wednesday 8 September) after their 9m rib took on water and was in danger of sinking off St John’s Point Lighthouse in county Down. Newcastle RNLI also responded.

The volunteer crew at Portaferry RNLI were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by Belfast Coastguard at 11.06 am following a Pan Pan alert. The report was that the vessel was sinking one mile west of St John’s Point. Meanwhile, Newcastle RNLI was requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat.

The inshore lifeboat from Portaferry helmed by Chris Adair and with crew members, Simon Exley, George Toma and Ian Sands onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene approximately 25 minutes away.

Weather conditions at the time were good with clear skies, moderate visibility due to a sea fog, smooth seas and a light breeze.

Arriving first on scene, the Portaferry lifeboat crew observed that the men onboard the boat were safe and well and were already using their own salvage pump to deal with the ingress of water.

The lifeboat helm transferred a crew member onboard the boat with another salvage pump should it be required. However, having assessed the situation and with the crew’s own pump coping well with the intake of water, a decision was made to escort the vessel to the nearest safe port at Ardglass Harbour. Newcastle RNLI was subsequently stood down. On arrival at Ardglass, the vessel was assisted by the Newcastle Coastguard team.

Speaking following the call out, Portaferry RNLI Helm Chris Adair said: ‘The men onboard the vessel acted quickly this morning which ensured that help was with them in good time should the situation have deteriorated. We would like to commend them for doing everything right in raising the alarm early on when they knew they were in difficulty, for wearing their lifejackets and for being prepared for the situation they encountered and using their own salvage pump. All these factors helped in keeping them safe and we were delighted to escort them back to Ardglass.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portaferry RNLI were called out yesterday evening (Thursday 26 August) at 5.44pm after members of the public reported three people in the water after their small punt capsized on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

Helmed by Fergal Glynn and with two crew onboard, the lifeboat was on scene close to the Walter rocks within minutes and the volunteers recovered the casualties from the water one by one.

After ensuring they did not require any medical assistance, the lifeboat crew took the casualties ashore and transferred them into the care of Portaferry coastguard rescue team.

The lifeboat crew then returned to the capsized punt to right it and take it under tow to Cook Street Quay.

Less than 24 hours before, on Wednesday evening (25 August), the lifeboat volunteers were called out to reports of two kayakers thought to be in difficulty off Kilclief in Co Down.

The lifeboat, helmed by Chris Adair and with two crew onboard, launched shortly after 8.30pm and was on scene at the Strangford Narrows within minutes.

However, after a thorough search of the area the volunteer crew found nothing of concern and returned to station at 9.25pm.

Commenting on both callouts, Portaferry RNLI press officer Jordan Conway said: “Our initial callout turned out to be a false alarm with good intent. The second callout was also initiated by a concerned member of the public and we would like to thank all members of the public for being so alert and taking the appropriate action.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launched yesterday evening (Monday 2 August) to the aid of a woman who had fallen onboard a yacht.

The volunteer lifeboat crew’s pagers sounded just after 7.30pm and they launched amid good conditions to assess the situation where a woman had suffered a fall on a 30ft yacht.

On scene, the volunteer crew found the casualty sitting upright in the cabin with an injured back and side. The lifeboat crew administered casualty care and supplied oxygen until the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service arrived and transferred the woman to hospital.

Also in attendance were coastguard teams from Portaferry and Bangor.

Portaferry helm Chris Adair said: “The casualty we assisted today had a mobile phone with her and was able to call for help.

“We had some great multi-agency collaboration between Portaferry lifeboat crew, Portaferry and Bangor Coastguard Rescue teams and the NI Ambulance Service.

“We wish the casualty a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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