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In the early hours of Thursday 25 April, the volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew from Donaghadee lifeboat station received a call from HM Coastguard to launch a rescue mission. A 40ft fishing trawler with one person onboard had contacted the Coastguard to report that they had no electrics, although they did have power and steering. The skipper was not confident of their location and thought they may be in Belfast Lough. 

The Coastguard activated the pagers of the Donaghadee lifeboat crew to request them to launch. With a crew of seven onboard RNLI lifeboat Macquarie, the team was underway seven minutes later. The sea state was calm, and there was a light westerly wind, allowing them to make full speed in the general direction of the trawler's last reported location, just north of Portpatrick.

As the trawler had no electrics, it also had no navigation lights, leaving the boat with its skipper at risk of not being visible to a larger vessel at sea and restricting its own visibility. The Coastguard liaised with the crew on the lifeboat and reported an up-to-date rough latitude and longitude from the fishing trawler, enabling them to have a more accurate direction to take.

Iain Kaleda, mechanic onboard the lifeboat, was able to establish both phone contact and later VHF contact with the skipper. As the skipper had a handheld VHF onboard, this allowed the crew of the lifeboat to use their direction-finding equipment to gain a more exact location for the trawler.

At 3:15 a.m., the vessel was located approximately 18 miles north of Donaghadee. The crew established that the skipper was safe and well. It was agreed that, given that he still had no electrics, it was best that they escorted him to the safety of Bangor marina.

However, at approximately 5.30 am, the trawler lost engine power, and with still quite a way to go to the safety of the marina, and given the danger to both the vessel and other shipping in the area, the coxswain of the lifeboat decided that it was best to secure a towline to the fishing trawler and tow it with its skipper to safety. 

After towing for about an hour, the lifeboat and the casualty vessel arrived at the safety of Bangor marina, where they were met by Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team and Bangor marina's local cat. 

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Bundoran RNLI lifeboat in County Donegal came to the aid of a fisherman on Wednesday, 24 April after their 6m open-top fishing boat sustained engine failure approximately half a mile from the pier at the lifeboat station.

The volunteer crew was requested to launch their inshore lifeboat shortly before 11 a.m. after the casualty raised the alarm when the boat’s engine failed close to rocks.

The lifeboat, helmed by Elliot Kearns and with crew members Finn Mullen, Fergal Muller, and Mark Vaughan onboard, launched at 10:51 a.m. and made its way the short distance to the scene.

The weather was blowing a northerly force 2 wind at the time, the sea was calm and there was good visibility.

Arriving on scene, the crew observed that the fisherman was wearing a lifejacket and had all the correct gear with him. However, as his engine had failed and the boat was close to rocks, the crew, having assessed the situation, deemed an alongside tow was essential, and they proceeded to bring the casualty safely back to the nearby pier wall.

Speaking following the call out, Daimon Fergus, Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘We would like to commend the casualty for wearing his lifejacket and for raising the alarm when he knew he couldn’t make safe progress".

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Galway RNLI’s volunteer crew were requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard on Monday afternoon (22 April) to rescue a walker on Hare Island who was cut off by the incoming tide.

The request to launch came shortly before 2pm and volunteer crew Dave Badger, James Rattigan, David Oliver and Olivia Byrne launched the inshore lifeboat and were on the water around 10 minutes later headed to Hare Island, on inner Galway Bay, which is accessible to walkers at low tide.

Conditions at sea were good with good visibility thanks to the current spell of fine weather.

When the crew reached Hare Island, they located the casualty who was safe and well. The crew brought the casualty on board the lifeboat and returned to the lifeboat station at the New Docks.

Lifeboat helm Dave Badger said: “It was a good outcome today. The casualty didn't require any further medical treatment once we returned to the lifeboat station.

“The casualty raised the alarm when they realised that they were cut off by the tide and were unable to get off the island, and that was the right thing to do. If you get into difficulty or see someone in difficulty, please dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Badger added: “Walking around coasts is a very safe activity most of the time. Our advice is to always take a means of calling for help and to check the weather and tides. Tide times and heights vary throughout the month and can easily catch you out if you haven’t checked them.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

We’ve become so accustomed to the RNLI’s Yellow Wellies being used as receptacles for Lifeboat Fund-Raisers – with silent donations much preferred, and usually generously given - that we can easily forget they’re practical items of footwear. But Crosshaven Lifeboat Branch have decided to give a new twist to this by combining most known uses of the distinctive footwear with a series of Yellow Welly Fund-Raiser Walks every Sunday morning in May at 10.0am. And the route is along the comfortably flat shoreside path from the Royal Cork YC to Drake’s Pool and back.

Project testing under way at a secret shoreside location near CrosshavenProject testing under way at a secret shoreside location near Crosshaven

 The walks will start at the Royal Cork YC car-park (centre-right) and head west for Drake’s Pool. Photo: Robert Bateman The walks will start at the Royal Cork YC car-park (centre-right) and head west for Drake’s Pool. Photo: Robert Bateman

There’ll be prizes for the best-decorated childrens’ wellies on the day. And though the plan is to walk there and back for a “Brew With The Crew” in the Lifeboat Station afterwards, we’d be very surprised if participants at each extreme of the age spectrum aren’t allowed their cuppa even if they do get a lift back from the turning point.

For those who wish this well but can’t be there themselves, donations can be made here

Crosshaven Lifeboat Branch

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On Sunday afternoon (21 April), the RNLI Helvick Head was called to rescue three boaters who got into difficulty near Helvick Head, southwest of Dungarvan. The Irish Coast Guard requested the assistance of the volunteer crew who launched their inshore lifeboat into easterly Force 2-3 winds and slight waters.

The lifeboat, with Alan Kelly at the helm and crew members Páidí Breathnach, Catherine Reeves, and Rian Kelly onboard, arrived at the scene at 5:13 pm. Upon assessing the situation, the crew found that the three male casualties were safe and well, all wearing their personal protective equipment (PPE).

As the 20-foot cabin cruiser had sustained mechanical failure, the crew decided to tow it back to Dungarvan harbour. The boats arrived safely back to port at 6:15 pm, thanks to the teamwork of the RNLI Helvick Head volunteers.

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Lough Derg RNLI were requested to launch on Thursday afternoon (18 April) by Valentia Coast Guard to assist two people on a 36ft cruiser reported aground inside Navigation Mark H at Gortmore Point.

The inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched at 1.03pm with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Steve Smyth, Chris Parker and Joe O’Donoghue on board. The wind was westerly Force 4, gusting Force 5, and visibility was good with frequent squalls.

At 1.15pm the lifeboat located the casualty vessel inside Navigation Mark H and 25 feet from shore. The lifeboat stood off to observe the casualty vessel, which appeared to be raised out of the water and pivoting on a central point.

With a volunteer taking soundings at the bow, and using on board electronic charts, the lifeboat navigated a safe passage to the starboard stern side of the casualty vessel. RNLI volunteers noted hazards in the water close by.

An RNLI volunteer boarded the casualty vessel and established that there were actually three people on board, safe and unharmed and all wearing their lifejackets. A fourth person had left the cruiser to swim to shore.

The skipper of the casualty vessel had deployed the anchor in an attempt to prevent further drift towards shore. They informed the lifeboat crew that they had damaged their propellers and suffered engine failure after hitting rocks.

An RNLI volunteer checked under the floorboards and reported back to the lifeboat that there was no ingress of water or visible damage to the hull.

Given that the vessel was high out of the water and appeared to be pivoting on a rock, and hadn’t changed its aspect to weather with the anchor out, the lifeboat helm made the decision to take everyone off the cruiser and onto the lifeboat, having first ensured that the casualty vessel was secure with windows closed and gas supply switched off.

The lifeboat informed Valentia Coast Guard of this decision and the plan to moor up at the nearby Gortmore Harbour, so that two RNLI volunteers could walk back to locate the person who swam to shore. Shore crew back at boathouse informed the cruiser company.

Accompanied by one of the people from the cruiser, two volunteers set out on foot from Gortmore Harbour to search for the fourth of their group.

A member of the public who had offered to drive down the road to assist in the search located the individual and drove him back. With the four reunited, the lifeboat took them to Portumna where their car was located.

The lifeboat departed the scene at 2.39pm and was back at station at 3.03pm.

Aoife Kennedy, launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users “to stay with your vessel and if in danger call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard”.

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Kilmore Quay RNLI launched on Friday afternoon (19 April) to assist five people aboard an angling charter boat southeast of the Saltee Islands when rope had become entangled in the propeller.

A number of the responding volunteer lifeboat crew left family confirmation celebrations to answer the call.

The all-weather Tamar class relief lifeboat Victor Freeman was requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard at 1pm and it left the station, under the command of coxswain Trevor Devereux with four crew members on board, arriving on scene at 1.30pm.

Having checked all on board were safe and well, the lifeboat crew decided that the safest course of action was to establish a tow.

The lifeboat was soon under way with the casualty vessel to the nearest available harbour at Kilmore Quay, arriving at 2pm. Weather and sea conditions were described as good at the time.

The call-out came as four of the station’s lifeboat crew are currently on passage from Poole in Dorset to Kilmore Quay, bringing home the station’s permanent lifeboat Killarney which has recently undergone a major overhaul.

With a total of nine lifeboat crew from the Kilmore Quay crew active on lifeboats today, the station is renewing its call for interested people to consider becoming a volunteer at Kilmore Quay RNLI.

Speaking on the call-out, Kilmore Quay lifeboat operations manager John Grace said: “It was great to see all on board wearing lifejackets and having followed the correct procedures when they got snagged. Stray ropes or nets floating in the water can be a hazard to any vessel in this way.”

Grace went on to praise the lifeboat crew and encourage those interested to find out more about becoming a volunteer with the lifeboat station.

“We are lucky to have a dedicated volunteer crew here in Kilmore Quay to respond to call-outs,” he said. “Today some left a family occasion to go and help others in need. It’s a selflessness and community spirit that we have here in our volunteers, and we’d welcome more people through the door to carry out this important work.

“Anyone interested is welcome to come and talk to us and training is given. There is so much to get out of volunteering for the RNLI.”

The Kilmore Quay RNLI lifeboat crew involved in the call-out were coxswain Trevor Devereux, mechanic Declan Roche, Adam Kelly, Robbie Connolly and Jack Devereux.

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Portaferry RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched on Monday evening to assist a 6-meter fishing vessel which had suffered engine failure close to the Bar Buoy at the entrance into Strangford Lough.

Belfast Coastguard requested the launch of the lifeboat at 6.11 pm, and the lifeboat, with helm Russel McGovern and volunteer crew members Scott Blackwood, Ros Watret, and George Toma onboard, launched at 6.15 pm and immediately made its way to the scene.

According to the volunteer crew, the weather conditions at the time were cloudy but fair, choppy, with a force 4 light breeze from the north. Once on scene, the crew observed the single member of crew to be safe and well.

An assessment of the situation showed that the vessel was unable to continue under its power, so a decision was made to establish a tow. The lifeboat towed the fishing vessel back to the safety of Cook Street Quay.

The lifeboat departed the scene at 7:25 p.m. and was back in the station at 7:30 p.m. Russell McGovern, Portaferry RNLI volunteer lifeboat helm, said, "We would commend the crew onboard the fishing vessel for having a means of calling for help and for raising the alarm when the engine failed."

"We would remind all boat owners to check their vessel's engine to ensure they are ready for summer. Always check the weather and tides before venturing out. Always wear a lifejacket or suitable personal flotation device for your activity and always carry a means of calling for help. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard," he added.

The incident highlights the importance of being prepared while venturing into the sea, and the tireless work of the RNLI volunteers who are always ready to assist those in need.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Rosslare Harbour RNLI came to the aid of a sailor who got into difficulty off the Wexford coast on Monday morning (15 April).

The volunteer crew were alerted at the request of the Irish Coast Guard after a concerned member of the public raised the alarm.

They reported that a 22-foot yacht with one person onboard appeared to be drifting towards rocks at the mouth of the Boatsafe adjacent to Rosslare Europort.

The all-weather lifeboat launched at 9.15am and upon arrival at the scene, its crew assessed the situation and decided in consultation with the sailor that, as they were unable to make safe progress, the vessel would be towed to the nearest safe port.

Speaking following the call-out, Rosslare Harbour RNLI launch authority Tony Kehoe commended the member of the public who raised the alarm for his vigilance.

“The member of the public’s actions were crucial in preventing a possible serious incident this morning and we commend him for his swift actions,” Kehoe said. “We would remind anyone who sees someone or a vessel in trouble at sea, to never hesitate to call for help by dialling 999 or 112.”

The volunteer crew on the call-out were coxswain Keith Miller, mechanic Mick Nicholas and crew Keith Morris, Paul McCormack and Dave McCusker.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Enniskillen RNLI in Northern Ireland launched their inshore lifeboat, the John and Jean Lewis, at 10.30am on Saturday morning (13 April) following a request from Belfast Coastguard that a fishing boat was adrift close to the Horse Island near Kesh.

Winds on Lough Erne at the time were westerly Force 5 at the time and visibility was cloudy.

Helmed by Stephen Ingram and with three crew members onboard, the lifeboat engaged in a search of all areas including the shoreline.

The volunteer crew searched the area around the Kesh River and Hayes Marina and onto Muckross Bay and public jetty area.

However, it was established that the casualty vessel had managed to return to shore prior to the lifeboat’s arrival.

Speaking following the call-out, Ingram said: “We would like to commend the member of the public who raised the alarm when they were concerned; that is always the right thing to do. We would always much rather launch and find that all is safe and well than not launch at all.”

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