The volunteer crews from the 43 Irish RNLI lifeboat stations, which cover the entire Irish coastline and inland on Lough Derg in Tipperary and Lough Erne in Enniskillen launched their lifeboats 439 times in the first six months of 2008. These figures show that despite the unpredictable climate people are continuing to take to the water for commercial and leisure activities.
The busiest stations in Ireland were Dun Laoghaire, which launched 36 times and Crosshaven in Cork, which launched 25 times. These two stations also brought 79 people to safety. Valentia lifeboat crew in Kerry were also busy rescuing a total of 35 people in the first six months of 2008.
Commenting on the figures the newly appointed RNLI Divisional Inspector for Ireland Martyn Smith said, " These half yearly figures show how busy our volunteer lifeboat crews continue to be throughout the year, regardless of the weather. The RNLI's continued investment in training, infrastructure and education in sea safety ensures that our crews are ready to meet any changes or challenges that may arise. These statistics show that people are still using the waters for a variety of activities.
As a charity we rely on the generosity of the public to ensure that our lifeboats can launch at any hour of any day to any emergency. This can range from a child getting into difficulty a few miles from shore to a commercial fishing vessel in trouble 80 miles out in force 10 gales."
The charity is calling on people to support their lifeboat volunteers on SOS day, to be held on Friday 30 January 2009. The RNLI is asking people, businesses and schools to raise funds for the Irish lifeboats by holding their own special SOS themed event. Events range from a raffled day off work (Sponsor our Skive) to a sponsored silence or talk (Sound or Silence) to the more adventurous (Shave our Skulls). The aim is simply to have fun while raising money for the lifeboats.
Fundraising packs for the RNLI SOS day are available for download on www.rnli.ie/sos