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Sligo Bay RNLI’s volunteers were called to the rescue of four swimmers in difficulty off Rosses Point yesterday afternoon, Sunday 22 November.

The four women, who were all seasoned swimmers, were caught in a swell when trying to get back ashore.

A number of onlookers on the beach called for the emergency services and both Sligo Bay RNLI’s lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard’s Sligo-based helicopter Rescue 118 were dispatched to the scene.

One of the four swimmers managed to get ashore unaided in the meantime, while one other was rescued by the volunteer lifeboat crew who administered casualty care en route to the lifeboat station where she was passed into the care of an ambulance crew.

The other two casualties were airlifted to safety by the crew of Rescue 118. All four swimmers were taken to Sligo General Hospital for assessment, as Sligo Bay RNLI reports.

Aisling Gillen, Sligo Bay RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat press officer, said: “We received a lovely message from one of the swimmers last night to thank us for saving their lives which was very kind and we would like to wish them all well.

“Seasoned open water swimmers have a great deal of experience and do observe proper safety precautions. However, the dangers this time of the year far outweigh the challenges that apply in summer. Cold water and currents can tire a swimmer quickly and make it harder to return to shore.”

One hour after this incident, the Sligo Bay lifeboat crew received a second call — this time to a surfer in difficulty at Strandhill, but who was able to make his own way ashore as the lifeboat stood by.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The RNLI says its volunteer crews faced an “unprecedented” summer as statistics reveal a big increase in callouts to people in distress compared to the same time last year.

Based on provisional incident reports from lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, the RNLI says there was a 64% jump in the number of recreational water users its crews aided.

RNLI lifeguards around the UK also reported an increase in the number of visitors to beaches around the coast as coronavirus lockdown measures eased between June and August.

The newly released figures cover people who got into difficulty while bodyboarding, using inflatables, kayaking, or canoeing, kitesurfing, paddle boarding, rowing, surfing, swimming, waterskiing, windsurfing and dinghy sailing.

This summer, 177 water users were aided while kayaking or canoeing, an increase of 84 people in comparison to 2019.

The number of people who needed help from RNLI lifeboat crews after getting into difficulties on inflatables more than doubled, the charity adds.

Stand-up paddle boarding, and increasingly popular sport, saw a 40% rise in lifeboat launches and the number of casualties assisted almost tripled.

Lifeboat crew callouts to swimmers were up by 14%. And launches to people who got into trouble while walking or running at the coast over the summer increased by 46%, with 175 more people aided in comparison to last year.

The RNLI’s head of water safety, Gareth Morrison, said: “Our volunteer crews have been on call throughout the pandemic. This year, they faced a summer like no other.

“When lockdown restrictions eased, we saw people flock to the beaches to enjoy our coastlines instead of holidaying abroad. But that resulted in a huge number of people getting into difficulty around our coasts, with our lifesavers facing an incredibly busy summer.

“If you find yourself in trouble at the coast this winter, call 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

The RNLI has spent £1.2 million (€1.34 million) this year on PPE to keep its lifesavers and the public safe during the coronavirus crisis, including almost 700,000 face masks, 2.4 million gloves and 4,700 litres of hand sanitiser.

Additionally, RNLI shops were closed, and fundraising events were cancelled, costing the charity that saves lives at sea potentially millions in lost income.

The RNLI relies on the support of the public to continue saving lives, and that support is needed now more than ever. To support its Christmas Appeal visit RNLI.org/Xmas

Kilkeel RNLI launched to the rescue a windsurfer who got into difficulty off Cranfield Point on Saturday (14 November).

The volunteer crew set out on their inshore lifeboat at 3.25pm on Saturday as part of a multi-agency tasking that also involved Kilkeel Coastguard, Greenore Coast Guard and the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 from Dublin.

Onshore, Kilkeel Coastguard had spotted the sail of the windsurfer just north of Carlingford Lough’s shipping channel and directed lifeboat helm Gerry Smyth towards the casualty, who had been one of a group of eight.

The other seven members of the group had made it safely to shore. In Force 5-6 winds and in a moderate sea, the casualty and his gear were taken onboard.

The exhausted casualty was checked by the lifeboat crew for injury, water inhalation and the effects of the cold conditions. He was then made comfortable and brought safely ashore. The lifeboat returned at 4.15pm where the grateful surfer was met by Kilkeel Coastguard.

Speaking following the callout, Kilkeel’s lifeboat operations manager John Fisher said: “The crew did everything in a thoroughly professional manner and we would like to wish the casualty well.

“Because of Covid-19, the crew have been restricted in their training exercises but this afternoon they demonstrated their skills with this rescue also highlighting how well multiple agencies work together.”

The crew readied to launch for a second time over the weekend at 2.15pm yesterday (Sunday 15 November) following a call that an EPIRB had been activated.

However, after an extensive local onshore search it was found that the EPIRB was faulty and was located in a boat owner’s garage.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A fishing boat has sunk after a collision with a cargo ship off England’s North Tyneside coast.

The incident occurred at 3.40pm on Sunday afternoon (9 November) just under a mile (1.6km) north of the Tyne piers.

The skipper of the 9.9m North Shields-based trawler made a distress call after the collision with a 17,000-tonne, 81m cargo ship that had recently sailed from Blyth.

The fishing vessel was badly damaged and started taking on water, leading to flooding in the engine room, as Tynemouth RNLI reports.

Tynemouth's all-weather lifeboat with a crew of six volunteers reached the scene just five minutes after launch and attempted to save the vessel with a salvage pump.

A number of other nearby vessels also responded to the distress call. The offshore support vessel Ocean Marlin launched a daughter boat in case the fishermen needed immediate evacuation.

As the water levels inside the boat dropped, the decision was made by the lifeboat coxswain to tow the trawler back to Royal Quays Marina in North Shields, where she could be quickly lifted out of the water.

Unfortunately, once under way at a very slow speed, it became clear the boat was so badly damaged that the movement increased the water ingress.

In a final attempt to save the fishing boat, Tynemouth RNLI's inshore lifeboat was launched with an extra salvage pump. But while it was en route the trawler started to lose stability it was quickly evacuated.

The all-weather lifeboat took the fishermen back to safety at North Shields while the crew of the inshore lifeboat stayed on scene where the fishing vessel sank soon after.

Later the all-weather lifeboat returned to recover the fishing vessel's life raft, which had automatically detached and inflated but was immersed in seawater and would have become a hazard to shipping if left afloat.

A search for any other floating debris was carried out but none was found.

“This was a potentially life-threatening situation and our volunteers responded as quickly as possible,” Tynemouth RNLI spokesperson Adrian Don told Chronicle Live.

“Thanks must also go to the other vessels in the area that responded to the situation.”

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Kilrush RNLI’s volunteer crew were called out yesterday morning (Sunday 8 November) to a report of a capsized catamaran drifting near Corlis Point on the Shannon Estuary.

The lifeboat crew launched within minutes of the 11.30am call and quickly reached the five-metre sailing catamaran on the Co Clare shore of the estuary.

Due to technical issues, the two on board the catamaran were unable to right the vessel and were drifting with the tide.

Both were found to be unharmed, and the lifeboat crew assisted in righting the vessel before escorting it back to Poulnasherry Bay, from where it had launched.

This was the second callout of the week for Kilrush RNLI, who previously launched on Wednesday (4 November) to a speedboat which was adrift between Glin and Tarbert on the Shannon Estuary and was a danger to navigation. Volunteers located and towed the vessel, which had no occupants, to Tarbert Island.

Charlie Glynn, Kilrush RNLI helm, says: “During Covid-19 restrictions, Kilrush RNLI’s readiness to launch has not changed and [we] continue to be fully operational and on call 24/7.”

Published in Shannon Estuary

A new children’s book focusing on the local history and mythology of the North West Connemara region has been launched this week in Co Galway.

And a portion of the proceeds is being donated to the Clifden RNLI lifeboats for their dedication to saving lives at sea.

Local author and youth worker Marie Feeney has produced From Our Ancient Land to Bountiful Sea, an informative and often humorous collection of local history and folklore tales with illustrations by Gary Kendellen.

These tales include accounts of the famous engineer Alexander Nimmo, who designed many piers and bridges in the Connemara area, and a blend of local history and myths that will appeal to locals and visitors alike.

Marie’s first book The Cleggan Disaster comprehensively and poignantly detailed the tragic drowning of 45 men from the fishing communities of Cleggan, Claddaghduff and Inishbofin and the Inishkeas, and also benefitted the local RNLI lifeboats.

Author Marie Feeney with her children Ronan, Diarmuid and Michaela at Sallerna Beach in Cleggan, Co Galway (Photo: Marie Feeney)Author Marie Feeney with her children Ronan, Diarmuid and Michaela at Sallerna Beach in Cleggan, Co Galway | Photo: Marie Feeney

On the launch of her new book, Marie said: “The coastline of Connemara, while exceptionally beautiful is also treacherous and mostly utilised by people who use it either for pleasure or their livelihood.

“Thankfully in our community, we have a dedicated RNLI volunteer team who provide an invaluable service by saving lives each year, sometimes in the most challenging environments.

“The philosophy of the RNLI is astounding. The purpose to save lives, their vision to save everyone, their volunteer ethos, their charitable and community base. Every life matters, and of course their maritime expertise is crucial.”

From Our Ancient Land to Bountiful Sea is now on sale locally in Connemara at The Clifden Bookshop, Letterfrack Country Shop, Gala Cleggan and Sweeney’s Claddaghduff. The book is also available online at the inConnemara Bookshop.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Indepdendent.ie reports that a member of a well-known Galway fishing family has died after an incident on a vessel in Galway Bay this afternoon (Monday 2 November).

The alarm was raised at lunchtime by a man on board the boat which was located at the time between Blackrock and Silverstrand west of Galway city.

Galway RNLI were tasked to the scene by the Irish Coast Guard, and the lifeboat crew brought the casualty back to Galway Docks from where he was transported by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

Published in Fishing
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As Storm Aiden brought its gale-force winds and driving rain from Ireland to western Scotland, Oban RNLI launched to assist a fishing vessel in distress in Loch Etive.

The 22ft fishing boat, with four on board, had broken down west of Airds Point and managed to secure to a fish farm mooring while they awaited assistance yesterday afternoon, Saturday 31 October.

Meanwhile, the lifeboat launched amid heavy seas and 60mph gusts and reached the scene within half an hour to set up a tow to Taynulit pier, from where the fishermen had set out earlier in the day.

On arrival, however, the pier was submerged by the extremely high tide, and with no other shelter in the area it was decided to secure the fishing vessel to a mooring in Airds Bay and bring its crew ashore at Dunstaffnage with the lifeboat.

Oban RNLI coxswain Ally Cerexhe said: “Although the lochs may appear to provide some shelter, the strong winds and high tides still pose the same risk.”

Published in Scottish Waters

Baltimore RNLI were called out to provide a medical evacuation this morning (Friday 30 October) from Heir Island off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 9.22am following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide medical assistance and evacuation to a man living on the island.

Along with two HSE paramedics, the lifeboat crew arrived at Heir Island pier just 10 minutes later and used a stretcher to transfer the casualty from his home to the lifeboat, and then back to the station and the awaiting ambulance.

Conditions at sea during the callout were calm, with a westerly Force 2 wind and no sea swell, ahead of the strong winds expected with Storm Aiden tomorrow, Saturday 31 October.

There were seven volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat: coxswain Kieran Cotter, mechanic Micheal Cottrell and crew members Aidan Bushe, Brendan Cottrell, Ronnie Carthy, Emma Lupton and Jerry Smith.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A father and son were rescued by Skerries RNLI after they were stranded on Shenick Island by the rising tide yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 27 October).

Pagers sounded for the lifeboat volunteers at 3pm and within minutes the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson was headed to the scene for a search of the north Co Dublin coastline.

They soon spotted two people — a father and his teenage son — on the beach near the submerged bar between the island and the mainland.

The lifeboat was manoeuvred into the shallow waters, close enough to send a crew member ashore to further assess the situation.

Following the advice of the crew, the father and son were brought aboard the lifeboat and taken back to the south beach in Skerries where they had left their belongings.

Speaking about the callout, Skerries RNLI press officer Gerry Canning said: “We appreciate that people are keen to get out and explore the coastline near them at this time.

“However, we would remind everyone to always keep a means of contacting the shore with them and to check the local tides before setting out.”

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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