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Displaying items by tag: RNLI

Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend the RNLI and HM Coastguard are launching a new safety campaign, urging everyone to choose lifeguarded beaches when they visit the coast. With continued uncertainty over foreign holidays and international travel, the RNLI is predicting this summer will be the busiest ever as Covid restrictions are eased and people choose to ‘staycation’.

In a survey, commissioned by the RNLI, 75% of those questioned - aged 16-64 - expect to visit a UK beach or the coast between April and September, with around half of that number likely to do so three or more times. A significantly higher proportion of the public (36%) also said they plan to visit the coast more than usual this year, compared to 2020 (24%).

Last summer RNLI lifeguards on 11 Northern Ireland beaches, rescued 71 people and dealt with 225 incidents.

‘We are expecting this summer to be the busiest ever for our lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews,’ said the RNLI’s Head of Water Safety Gareth Morrison. ‘These new figures back that up.

‘We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.

‘Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling 11 beaches in Northern Ireland this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.

‘Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but they can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during early summer when air temperatures start warming up but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock.’

The key summer safety advice is:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
  • Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard

Across the UK last year, RNLI lifeguards saved 110 lives, aided 25,172 people - including 1,908 involving bodyboards and 348 with inflatables – responded to 10,687 incidents and made more than 2.2M preventative actions.

Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard, said: ‘2020 was an exceptionally busy year and we’re expecting more people to take their holidays around our wonderful coasts this summer.

‘We’re asking everyone to follow a few simple safety tips, so the trip is memorable for all the right reasons.

‘Before setting out, take a minute to check the weather, tides and winds to help avoid getting caught out.

‘Leave inflatables at home as they are designed for the pool, not open water, where the wind and current can very quickly take you out to sea and into danger.

‘Recreational watersports such as paddleboarding are now incredibly popular and we’d encourage everyone to make it a fun rather than frightening experience. It pays to prepare and taking a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch when you set out for a paddle will mean you can call for help if needed.

‘If you or someone else is in trouble, always call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

Not everyone who finds themselves in trouble in the water, expected to even get wet though.

‘If you find yourself in trouble in cold water, your natural reaction can be to panic and thrash around, which increases the chances of breathing in water and drowning. The best thing to do is to float on your back and wait for the effects of cold water shock to pass until you can control your breathing. You can then plan your next move to reach safety’ added the RNLI’s Gareth Morrison

For further information on the beach safety campaign here

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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

Portaferry RNLI launched to the aid of two sailors late last night (Tuesday 25 May) after their yacht broke down a mile off the mouth of Strangford Lough.

Pagers sounded for the Northern Ireland volunteer lifeboat crew at 11.10pm after HM Coastguard requested the launch of the station’s inshore lifeboat Blue Peter V.

The crew were informed that the yacht, with two sailors onboard, had lost power and with no navigation lights was in difficulty north of the Fairway buoy, itself north of the Strangford Bar.

The lifeboat, helmed by Chris Adair and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately and was on scene within minutes in good conditions with moderate seas and a Force 3-4 wind.

Having assessed that the two sailors were safe and well, the lifeboat crew quickly established a towline and, at the request of the sailors, the yacht was towed into Portaferry.

Speaking following the callout, Adair said: “The sailors did the right thing last night and having carried a means of communication, they were able to call for help when they knew they were in difficulty.

“Without hesitation, our lifeboat crew turned out in their numbers despite the late time last night and it is a credit to their selflessness and dedication that they are always ready to help someone in need.

“We have also had a busy few days of RNLI training at the station which ensures our volunteers are always skilled and prepared when that call for help comes.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Kilkeel RNLI launched their inshore lifeboat to the aid of two fishermen stranded in Carlingford Lough on Saturday (22 May).

The fishermen had been lifting creels just off Cranfield Point on the Northern Ireland side when the 25ft boat’s propeller became fouled by a rope and was unable to move.

Arriving on scene in good conditions, the lifeboat volunteers checked on the fishermen’s wellbeing before two crew set about the task of entering the water and cutting the rope away from the propeller.

After checking that all was sound, the lifeboat crew let the fishermen go on their way and proceeded back to base.

Speaking afterwards, Kilkeel RNLI helm Gerry Smyth said: “The two fishermen could have drifted into the shipping channel so they made the correct call by contacting the coastguard on 999 or 112 and seeking assistance. We were pleased to help and have a successful outcome.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Volunteers from Aran Islands RNLI had a call out in the early hours of this morning (Monday 24 May) to medically evacuate three people involved in an accident from Inis Mór.

The crew were requested to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard at 3.50 am. The Inis Mór Fire Service was also tasked.

Three casualties were transferred aboard the lifeboat at the pontoon at Kilronan Harbour. The transfer between the crew of the Inis Mór Fire Service and the lifeboat crew proved challenging due to poor weather conditions at the time with very heavy rain and a strong wind blowing.

Once the casualties were safely onboard, the lifeboat under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew, proceeded in sea conditions that were described as choppy with a south-westerly Force 6 wind blowing. There was a 2.5m sea swell and poor visibility due to the heavy rain.

Once at Rossaveal Harbour, the casualties were transferred by the lifeboat crew to the waiting ambulances.

Speaking after the call out, Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: ‘This was a challenging call out for all involved this morning. The darkness of night and the poor weather conditions made the transfer difficult, but we are trained for situations like this and were glad to be able to help and we wish the casualties a speedy recovery.

‘Despite the early hours and the poor weather conditions, our volunteers answered their pagers this morning without hesitation or delay and I would like to commend them for that as well as thank our colleagues in the other emergency services with whom we worked with to bring the three people to safety.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Newcastle RNLI in County Down came to the aid of a group of sailors yesterday afternoon (Sunday 23 May) after two vessels got into difficulty off the South Promenade.

The inshore D class lifeboat was requested to launch shortly after 3 pm yesterday following a report from Belfast Coastguard that five people were in the water. The lifeboat helmed by Declan Barry and with three volunteer crew members onboard, launched immediately and made its way the short distance to the scene. Newcastle Coastguard was also tasked along with Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the PSNI.

Four Laser dinghies and a rigiflex safety boat had been in the water prior to the incident. A challenging low tide swell resulted in one of the dinghies capsizing and suffering a broken mast. While the other three lasers had made it safely to shore, the crew of the rigiflex went to assist with the broken mast. Whilst doing so, it was also capsized by a strong wave leaving three people in the water, but they too made it safely to shore by themselves.

Four people then returned to the water to recover the two boats which had, by then, been carried into shallower water. The Laser was successfully recovered but the group were having difficulty with the much heavier rigiflex.

The lifeboat went as far as the water's edge as the incident was close to the station’s slipway. Due to the conditions, the helm remained with the lifeboat while the three other crew members waded towards the upturned boat.

With no one in immediate danger, the lifeboat crew assisted by members of Newcastle Coastguard, went into the surf to assist in righting the boat which they did successfully.

Following the incident, six sailors were brought to Newcastle Lifeboat Station for assessment and treatment by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. No one was in need of any further medical attention.

Speaking following the call out, Newcastle RNLI Helm Declan Barry, said: ‘We were happy to see that everyone was safe and well and not in any immediate danger. Conditions at sea can change quickly and the surf was challenging yesterday so we were glad to be able to help in ensuring everyone got back to shore safely after the boats got into difficulty. There was a multi-agency response to the call out and we would like to commend our volunteers and colleagues in the other services for working well together.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The many months of Lockdown in its various forms have prevented the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association from physically holding their regular monthly winter meetings at Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club in Dublin Port. Each of these friendly gatherings – with specialist speakers on a wide variety of maritime topics - traditionally raised substantial sums for Howth Lifeboat through the simple and relatively painless expedient of the attendees on arrival dropping a minimum of €5 into an RNLI yellow welly on a table by the door.

The pandemic shutdowns might have stopped this intensely personal programme in any form, were some ordinary body involved. But the DBOGSA are made of sterner stuff. And as we've commented before on Afloat.ie, the more die-hard of a traditionalist any sailing enthusiast might be, the more he or she seems to be comfortably on top of modern communications.

Thus with tech whizzes like Mark Sweetnam and the current DBOGA Hon Sec/Treas Darryl Hughes on the job, the DBOGA smoothly transformed its monthly winter gatherings into an eclectic series of online Zoom talk/discussions – many of them previewed in Afloat.ie - which continued the lifeboat fund-raising as part of the online process, and provided the bonus of an edited version of the monthly show appearing on YouTube, usually within 24 hours.

A long-established and friendly relationship: the Howth 17s come to visit the Old Gaffers Association during their Golden Jubilee Celebrations at the Poolbeg Y & BC in 2013. Photo: W M Nixon   A long-established and friendly relationship: the Howth 17s come to visit the Old Gaffers Association during their Golden Jubilee Celebrations at the Poolbeg Y & BC in 2013. Photo: W M Nixon

Now that the light of lockdown-lifting is on the horizon, it is time to take stock, and Johnny Wedick, President of the DBOGA, has received an appreciative letter from Rose Michael, leader of the Howth RNLI Fund Raising Crew, with the news that the DBOGA "Lockdown Lolly" has reached €7,571, and there's probably more in the pipeline.

As it is, it's a tidy sum. So when the DBOGA hold their annual Cruise-in-Company to Howth in August - by which time it's hoped proper freedom of movement will have arrived – there'll be one of those slightly wacky ceremonies where the Old Gaffers hand the Howth RNLI an enormous cardboard cheque with the final amount inscribed thereon. Upon which, everyone will doubtless then spring to the mainbrace, and great will be the splicing thereof.

Dublin Bay Old Gaffers raise €7,571 online for Howth Lifebo
Published in Dublin Bay Old Gaffers

Oban RNLI in Western Scotland launched to the aid of a yacht that has dragged its anchor in strong northerly winds on Friday afternoon (23 May).

The 30ft yacht with two people on board had run aground in the popular anchorage of Puilladobhrain, at the north end of Seil island.

As the all-weather lifeboat Mora Edith MacDonald made best speed towards the anchorage, however, the volunteers learned that the yacht had managed to refloat itself and its crew repositioned their anchor.

Oban RNLI reports that all were safe on board and no damage was sustained, but both persons were shaken from the experience — and with winds gusting 35mph, it was decided best to escort the yacht back to Oban.

Arriving on scene 30 minutes after launch, a lifeboat crew member was transferred onboard the yacht to assist. Their anchor was lifted but the gusty wind meant that they didn’t have time to stow it properly.

The yacht battled the strong winds and made way under their own engine as the lifeboat led them out of the anchorage.

Winds had picked up at sea and presented challenging conditions for the 30ft yacht as they proceeded back towards Oban.

Once in some relative shelter, the crew member onboard the yacht was able to stow the anchor, preventing it from damaging the yacht’s hull.

Arriving back in Oban by 6pm, another crew member was put onboard to assist with securing alongside and the yacht was safely berthed at the North Pier Pontoons shortly after with the assistance of Oban’s Coastguard Rescue Team.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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At 5.02 pm on Saturday 22 May, Carrybridge RNLI’s inshore lifeboat at Enniskillen on Lough Erne was launched to a vessel with one person on board which had run aground approxmayelt one mile south of Belleisle Estate.

Winds were South Westerly, Force 2. Visibility was good with overcast conditions.

The lifeboat arrived at the casualty vessel and no water ingress found.

The water tank on the boat was emptied to assist the crew in refloating the vessel. With the owner’s permission, a tow was established, and the vessel was refloated and towed to deeper water. The vessel was then able to continue its journey.

Speaking following the call out, Chris Cathcart, Lifeboat Helm at Carrybridge RNLI advised all boat users: ‘‘As we enter the busy time of the year we would ask that everyone have a means of calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble, have lifejackets for all on board and plan their journey using the relevant charts. If you see someone in trouble on the water or are in difficulties yourself the number to dial is: 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Ree RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew responded to two separate call-outs coming to the assistance of eight people on two different cruisers on Lough Ree on Saturday 22 May.

In the first instance, a boat had become grounded on a rock shelf, west of Inchmore Island on Lough Ree. The Lough Ree RNLI volunteer lifeboat was launched and reached the scene just before midday. The 17ft cruiser was found grounded and on inspection the engine of the boat was in need of repair.

In bright and breezy conditions the Lough Ree RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew took the boat under tow and brought it safely to a berth at Coosan Point marina.

Just before 6pm, the Lough Ree RNLI volunteer lifeboat ‘Tara Scougall’ was back in the water with another volunteer crew coming to the assistance of a 34ft boat which had run aground at Kid Island on Lough Ree. Under RNLI volunteer helm Emmet Devereux the craft was refloated and continued on its way.

Tom Bradbury, one of the helms at Lough Ree RNLI said: ‘Following unusual weather patterns obstacles on the lake can be hidden in rising waters. Boating enthusiasts are reminded of the importance of navigating within the marker buoys on the lake.’

As the new season on the lake begins in earnest Lough Ree RNLI Operations Manager, Jude Kilmartin said: ‘the charity looks forward to working closely with locals and visitors to our inland waterways.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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