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Three members of Larne RNLI’s fundraising committee, who between them have volunteered for a combined 70 years, have been awarded with long-service medals recognising their contribution to saving lives at sea in Northern Ireland.

Pamela McAuley, Esther Dorman and Stephen Craig were presented with their medals ahead of the reopening of the lifeboat Christmas shop in the Murrayfield arcade in Larne, Co Antrim.

Recalling why she got involved with the charity, Pamela McAuley — who is the chair of Larne RNLI’s fundraising committee — said: “My family have always been keen sailors, being involved with a local sailing club.

“I thought it seemed a good way to give something back to a charity that is always ready and willing to answer every call for help at sea.”

Stephen Craig said: “I got asked to help out with a fashion show that the fundraisers put on in the autumn of 1998 and enjoyed helping out. It wasn’t until 1999 that I officially joined as a volunteer.

“I have been a lifelong sailor with a particular interest in sea safety and with prior work commitments I would have found it difficult to commit as a crew member. However, volunteering with the fundraisers was a suitable alternative.”

Esther Dorman, who is the secretary of the fundraising committee and has been volunteering for the RNLI for 30 years, added: “Like Stephen and Pam, my family has been involved with Larne RNLI now for many years, with my brother, nephew and niece all being volunteers.

“I’m happy to be involved with fundraising as I feel I’m supporting a worthwhile cause.”

Larne RNLI’s pop-up Christmas shop is back this year in the Murrayfield arcade in Larne. The shop is open every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The only similarity between the Viking ships that raided Larne Lough in the ninth century and the boats used by the Olderfleet Rowing Club is that they are slender. The name 'Olderfleet' is thought to be a corruption of Ulfrecksfiord (or Ulfried's Fjord), the Viking name for Larne Lough, which lies on the east coast of County Antrim. It is a busy ferry port connecting with Cairnryan in Scotland.

The Club, which offers social and competitive coastal rowing along the Antrim coast, was founded early last year by Barbara Johnston, and with the help of the local business community, the club is going from strength to strength with 97 members and plans for continued growth. Not only that, but Olderfleet Rowing Club is proudly supporting Friends of the Cancer Centre and as well as raising money and awareness of the charity, the club will be giving teenagers and young adults with cancer the opportunity to get out on the water and try rowing for themselves.

Olderfleet Rowing Club, which has members of all ages, trains Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays on Larne Lough and the open seaOlderfleet Rowing Club, which has members of all ages, trains Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays on Larne Lough and the open sea

The club's base is beside the East Antrim Boat Club slip, giving access to the sheltered lough and the Co Antrim coast. The boats, two quads and two doubles, are kept in containers, and the club recently received a grant for a portacabin beside EABC.

Commenting on what inspired her to start her own rowing club, Barbara said: "I come from a rowing family, and I have been rowing myself for eight years. It is an incredible sport that I have fallen in love with, and I decided to establish my own club earlier this year. Olderfleet Rowing Club opened in February, and with the help and support of James Boomer and Norman Black, we are building a really great community".

Norman Black is one of the club's founders and a constant driving force. He coxes and coaches and is a long time Antrim Coast rower. The club is fortunate to have as Club coach James Boomer, who coached at two commonwealth regattas, Canada and Scotland. He was Head Coach for the Scottish regatta when Northern Ireland won its first-ever Gold. He has also coached Irish Junior level rowers at Home Internationals. He explains his outlook; "Coaching ranges from absolute beginners to seasoned racers, with a focus on personal, technical and crew development. Everyone is given the same opportunities to let them develop their rowing ability. Rowing is a truly wonderful sport, and I am only too glad to help people achieve their goals".

The club, which has members of all ages, trains Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays on Larne Lough and the open sea.

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Larne RNLI was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard on Saturday (12 June) to reports of a kayaker in the water north-east of Skernaghan Point, close to Portmuck in Islandmagee on Northern Ireland’s East Antrim coast.

Launching the inshore lifeboat Terry at 3.26pm, the volunteer crew made their way towards the location of the casualty.

As they were approaching the area, it was reported that the casualty had been recovered from the water by a local fishing boat.

Upon reaching the fishing boat, the volunteer crew recovered the casualty from the boat into the lifeboat and began to administer first aid. They also recovered the kayak to be towed into the safety of Portmuck Harbour.

Upon reaching the harbour, the casualty was handed over to the care of Portmuck Coastguard team and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Larne RNLI helm Barry Kirkpatrick said following the callout: “We would like to wish the casualty a speedy recovery and commend the crew of the fishing vessel who were on scene first.

“The casualty was wearing a lifejacket and all of his equipment was in good working order order. Sometimes even with the correct preparation, the sea can still be very unpredictable. We would recommend anyone going to sea always carries a means of calling for help should they get into any trouble.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Larne RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Terry was launched yesterday (Monday 7 June) at the request of Belfast Coastguard to assist two people in a 17ft fishing boat with suspected engine issues.

Launching the lifeboat into a strong sea breeze, the volunteer crew made their way towards the casualty vessel which had dropped their anchor at Browns Bay, near Islandmagee on Northern Ireland’s East Antrim coast, as the people onboard were concerned that they could drift into a shipping channel.

Upon reaching the casualty vessel, a volunteer crew member was put on board to ensure that the two people were safe and well and a tow was set up to bring the boat into the shelter of Ballylumford Harbour.

Once their vessel was secured, the casualties were handed over to the care of the Portmuck Coastguard team.

Philip Ford-Hutchinson, Larne RNLI deputy launching authority, said: “The sea conditions today were very deceptive. It was a lovely sunny day, but the wind had really picked up.

“Thankfully the casualties were well prepared and able to put down an anchor in time to stop them from being at the mercy of the wind and tide. Both of the people onboard were wearing lifejackets and knew to call the coastguard on 999 (or 112) when they were in trouble.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A group of open water swimmers who were rescued after getting caught in a rip current have raised over £1,000 for Larne RNLI.

The swimmers were safely recovered to the shore before action was required by the station’s lifeboats in the incident in late March at Ballygally Beach, on the East Antrim coast in Northern Ireland.

But following the incident, the swimmers at Ballygally Chilli Dippers Open Water Swimming Group felt they would like to do their bit to help the charity.

On Sunday last (23 May), some of Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew along with lifeboat operations manager Allan Dorman and members of the fundraising team, went to Ballygally Beach where a cheque for £1,016 was presented by the Chilli Dippers.

Recalling the events from March, Sharon Hamilton of the swimming group said: “The sea conditions changed very quickly that evening and within seconds of going in, a few of us were taken out to sea and out of our depth by a rip current.

“We all had our floats and to begin with we were within our depths. Our intention that evening was to have a quick swim, however once we were caught in the current the fight was too much for us to get back to shore. Luckily help came just in time.”

Speaking about the increase in open water swimming, Sharon said: “The pandemic and lockdown has sent lots of us running to the sea for therapy and exercise, but safety needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

“Never swim alone, use a float, carry a whistle and check tide times and learn how to spot a rip current. Thankfully the fast-acting members of the Chilli Dippers, pulled together and got everyone safely back to the shore just as the RNLI were launching.

“The response I got from my Facebook post highlighting the need for sea safety was overwhelming, so I decided to turn it around and ask for a small donation from anyone who had liked or shared the post. The response was amazing and a grand total of £1,016 was raised within a week.”

The fundraising efforts of the Chilli Dippers come at a time when the RNLI is asking for donations as part of its annual Mayday fundraising campaign.

Larne RNLI’s Dorman said: “We are so grateful to Sharon and all the Chilli Dippers for thinking of us, raising much needed funds to help us to continue to save lives at sea, all while spreading the importance of water safety as well.”

There is still time to take part in with the Mayday Mile. Walk, run, cycle, or cover one mile however you would like and then donate online to the RNLI at RNLI.org/supportMayday

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Larne RNLI’s volunteers launched to the aid of three people in difficulty off the Antrim coast between late Monday evening (17 May) and early Tuesday morning (18 May).

Both the all-weather and inshore lifeboats were requested to launch around 11pm following a report that a man had fallen on rocks and sustained possible wrist and head injuries in the Ballygally area of the East Antrim coast.

The all-weather lifeboat Dr John McSparron went alongside providing support and helping to illuminate the area for the Larne Coastguard and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service crews already on scene.

With the location of the casualty presenting access issues, he was moved to the inshore lifeboat in a basket stretcher and ferried to the slipway near Ballygally beach where he was transferred to the waiting ambulance.

Just a couple of hours later, the lifeboat crew were called out again to assist two sailors on a 35ft yacht on passage from Argyll with reported engine failure some 15 nautical miles off Larne Harbour.

After checking both sailors were safe and well, the volunteers set up a tow for the vessel to its destination of Carrickfergus Marina, where it was secured for maintenance.

Larne RNLI’s deputy launching authority Philip Ford-Hutchinson described the night as a busy one “with little rest between callouts”.

He added: “The first call demonstrated great teamwork between the RNLI, Larne Coastguard and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

“Callouts like these are something that our volunteer crew regularly train for and the skill and professionalism was evident last night. We wish the gentleman a speedy recovery.”

Arklow RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat takes a stricken fishing vessel under tow on Friday 14 MayArklow RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat takes a stricken fishing vessel under tow on Friday 14 May | Credit: RNLI/Arklow

Elsewhere, Arklow RNLI and Courtown RNLI launched their respective all-weather and inshore lifeboats to reports of a fishing vessel in danger of sinking near Courtown last Friday morning (14 May).

As the Courtown crew arrived on scene, they found a number of other fishing boats attempting to tow the stricken vessel to safety as its crew managed to stem the flow of water on board.

Arklow RNLI then set up their own tow to bring the casualty vessel into Arklow Harbour amid calm seas.

Mark Corcoran, Arklow RNLI community safety sfficer, said: ”It’s great to see all of the various agencies working together helping to save lives at sea and in our communities.

“Thankfully this callout became lower risk due to the actions of the vessel’s own crew.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

It was back to dinghy racing at the Larne club, East Antrim, for the May Day regatta on Sunday 2nd under current NI Covid restrictions.

There was a good turnout of 21 in four classes – Optimist, Toppers, Single and Double Handers.

The Doig family dominated the Oppies and Toppers, with four members in the Optimist and Toppers. Freddie was the first Optimist with three bullets, and Fraser won the Toppers coincidentally with the same score. Tom Coulter took first in a Laser Radial with another Doig, Gavin, runner up in the ten single Handers. Zoe Whitford and Kelly Patterson in a 29er won the Double Hander fleet, which included three Flying Fifteens.

Tom Coulter racing in the Laser Radial at EABC Photo: Sue KitsonTom Coulter racing in the Laser Radial at EABC Photo: Sue Kitson

Sunday racing continues through until September.

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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Larne Harbour on the east coast of Antrim in Northern Ireland is currently the base for the MPI Resolution, the world's first purpose-built vessel for installing offshore wind turbines, foundations, and transition pieces.

The ship is working out of Larne to provide Operations and Maintenance services to the UK west coast wind farms and has been using Larne as the base port for these operations.

The 2003-built vessel is 130 metres in length overall and has a 38-metre beam.

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Two adults and a child were rescued this morning (Sunday 9 August) by Larne RNLI after their small RIB broke down near Magheramore in Co Antrim.

The volunteer crew launched the smaller in-shore lifeboat, Terry, at 11.05am and made their way in calm seas towards the scene.

All three on the casualty vessel were found to be safe and well, and a tow was establish to return the RIB to the harbour at Ballylumford.

Inshore lifeboat helm Chris Dorman said: “The casualties did the right thing. They were trying out this piece of equipment and realised that something wasn’t quite right with it, so they contacted the coastguard for assistance.

“Everyone onboard was wearing a lifejacket and they had means to contact the shore in case of emergency.”

He added: “If you see anyone in difficulties at sea, the dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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