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Five people were rescued from a 44ft yacht that lost its rudder while on passage from the Scilly Isles to Dungarvan on Tuesday (August 22nd).

The yacht was left powerless to steer its course and was located 10 miles south of Mine Head.

The Ballycotton RNLI all-weather Trent class lifeboat, The Austin Lidbury, and a volunteer crew were immediately dispatched following a request for assistance from the French yacht's crew. The RNLI continues to provide an on-call 24/7 search and rescue lifeboat service.

The crew arrived on the scene at 9:15 am and established that all five crew members on board the yacht were unharmed and wearing a flotation device. Due to the location of the vessel and the weather conditions, the decision was made to tow the rudderless yacht back to Ballycotton harbour. The process was slow and difficult due to a southwest gale of force 4 with a moderate swell. The yacht was safely berthed in Ballycotton pier by 1:15 pm.

Commenting on the callout, Ballycotton Deputy Coxswain Barry McDonald said, "I would especially like to thank all the crew who responded to the pager as handling a rudderless yacht is challenging, and also to the ground crew who assisted when we arrived back in the harbour." The volunteer lifeboat crew comprised of Deputy Coxswain Barry McDonald, Mechanic Adam Hussey, Navigator David Casey, and volunteers Eolan Breathnach, Cíaran Walsh, Kate Flemming, and Stephen Sloane.

David Casey was also congratulated on his first call-out as a newly qualified navigator.

The RNLI advises people to adhere to relevant water safety guidance for any water activity to ensure their safety.

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It’s been a busy and productive year to date for volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI, with crew passing out on training assessments and new volunteers joining the team — as well as the hugely successful fundraising Lap the Lake charity cycle organised by the Lough Derg RNLI fundraising committee.

RNLI volunteers maintain their proficiency in their lifesaving work with competence-based training modules. Volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI train twice weekly on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings.

Recently, Oisín Higgins was successful in his crew pass-out assessments with RNLI assessor/trainer Seán Ginnelly, while Dom Sharkey has returned as an RNLI helm at the lifeboat station and was one of the team afloat for Oisín’s assessment.

Seán also assessed and passed Paraic Slattery out on his preliminary shore modules so that he can now train afloat on the lifeboat.

Lifeboat operations manager Christine O’Malley presenting Oisín Higgins with his pagerLifeboat operations manager Christine O’Malley presenting Oisín Higgins with his pager

Paraic is a captain with the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 and has delivered an informative presentation on his role as a rescue pilot to the station team, including a discussion on the combined operations between RNLI lifeboats and the coastguard. His talk reaffirmed the required skill, commitment and training by all involved within the rescue services.

Another new recruit is Triona Breen, who has been passed out on her preliminary modules that permit her now to train with her fellow volunteers on the water.

Christine O’Malley, lifeboat operations manager at Lough Derg RNLI said: “We are hugely grateful to Seán as assessor/trainer whose teaching skills and enthusiasm have a positive impact on all volunteers at the station. Thanks too to Joe O’Donoghue, crew at Lough Derg RNLI who provided classes, resources and his valuable time to help Paraic and Triona with their studies.

“We are pleased to see the camaraderie and teamwork as established crew and helms support their fellow volunteers with their training and assessments. It means our crew are ready for whatever scenarios they meet on the water.”

Volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI welcomed Lisa Hollingum, their new area lifesaving manger (ALM), on her visit to the station to meet the crew and Operations Team. As ALM, Lisa’s role is to lead and support a team of staff and volunteers, and actively manage the safe and effective delivery of the RNLI’s lifesaving services.

Seán Ginnelly with trainee crew Triona Breen | Credit: RNLI/Eleanor HookerSeán Ginnelly with trainee crew Triona Breen | Credit: RNLI/Eleanor Hooker

Earlier this year, volunteers from Lough Derg RNLI travelled to the Irish Coast Guard’s Marine Rescue Coordination Centre on a pre-arranged visit. Members of the station also took the opportunity to visit Valentia RNLI and to see around the all-weather lifeboat and station.

Crew and members of Lough Derg RNLI operations team met watch officers Brian Shiels, John Geoghegan and Liam Jenkinson, who showed the crew round the centre and explained their important role maintaining a listening watch on marine distress frequencies.

Watch officers also produce and broadcast Radio Navigational Warnings and notify mariners of navigational hazards. They task and coordinate search and rescue missions with declared search-and-rescue (SAR) assets such as RNLI lifeboats, Sikorsky helicopters and the coastguard’s volunteer land and water units. The rescue coordination centres process calls that come from members of the public through the 112/999 emergency call system.

“It was an important visit that forged even closer ties with our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard,” Christine said. “Members of the station also took the opportunity to visit Valentia RNLI and were given a warm welcome.”

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Bundoran RNLI came to the aid of two swimmers on Sunday evening (20 August) after they were dragged out to sea off the Main Beach in the Co Donegal town.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 7.49pm by Malin Head Coast Guard after a member of the public raised the alarm when they saw two people, initially thought to be children, being dragged out to sea.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Sligo-based helicopter Rescue 118 and Killybegs Coast Guard were also tasked.

Weather conditions at the time were described as at high tide with a one-metre sea swell and an offshore wind.

Helmed by Brian Gillespie and with crew members Mark Vaughan, Oisin Cassidy and Richard Gillespie onboard, the Bundoran lifeboat made its way to the scene where the helicopter crew, which had also just arrived, spotted the two people in the water and directed the lifeboat crew to their exact position.

Both the man and woman were found to be safe and well but due to how far offshore they had become, a decision was made by the lifeboat crew to take them onboard and bring them safely back to the Main Beach.

Speaking following the call-out, Bundoran RNLI lifeboat operations manager Daimon Fergus said: “Thankfully, both people were found to be safe and well when we located them yesterday evening and not in need of assistance. However, as they were quite far out, the safest option was to bring them onboard and return them safely to the beach.

“We would like to commend the member of the public who raised the alarm when they spotted what they thought were two people in potential difficulty; that is always the right thing to do. We would also like to thank our colleagues in the various emergency services who attended including the coastguard, gardaí and ambulance service.

“As we approach the final weeks of the summer holidays, we would encourage anyone planning a trip to the coast to always plan ahead with safety in mind.

“Check weather and tide times before venturing out, always wear a lifejacket or suitable flotation device for your activity, always carry a suitable means of communication such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch, let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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A group of swimmers were rescued by Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI this morning near Dalkey Island on Dublin Bay.

The crew was on a training exercise in the station’s inshore lifeboat when they were alerted to an incident unfolding at Dalkey Island. The swimmers had become separated from their main group, and upon reaching shore, became concerned for their friends who had not returned.

A passing Dive Support RIB was flagged down and alerted the Coast Guard, who promptly tasked Dun Laoghaire’s inshore lifeboat. All swimmers were accounted for, and the remaining swimmers were brought safely ashore and assessed by ambulance crews.

This was the first callout for volunteer crew member Andrew Sykes, who had recently passed out as a Helm at Dun Laoghaire RNLI for the station’s Inshore lifeboat. Andrew joined the station at the age of 18 and has worked his way up to the senior position of lifeboat Helm after six years on the lifeboat crew.

Dun Laoghaire RNLI Deputy Launch Authority Dara Totterdell urged all swimmers to keep safety in mind, advising them to know the area they are swimming in, watch the tides and the sea state, have an agreed plan, and know their limits. The RNLI’s Float to Live campaign recommends anyone in difficulty to float on their back if in trouble and never hesitate to call for help.

“We would encourage anyone planning a water-based activity to be wary of sea temperatures and to wear a wetsuit as hypothermia can set in within minutes,” Totterdell said. “If you see someone who may be in trouble in the water, raise the alarm immediately and call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard. Time is always of the essence in these situations.”

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The volunteer crew from Portaferry RNLI were requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard shortly before 5pm on Friday (18 August) to assist a sailing yacht in difficulty.

The 28ft yacht with two adults and a child on board had run into trouble off Ardglass on the coast of Co Down in Northern Ireland.

The occupants had found it difficult to make way against the rough weather conditions as Storm Betty approached, and with their engine running low on fuel they radioed the coastguard for assistance.

Under the command of coxswain Gerry McConkey, the all-weather lifeboat The Leonard Kent from Newcastle RNLI launched at 5.40pm to assist Portaferry RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, if required.

Conditions were difficult with an easterly to south-easterly wind and rough waves between two-and-a-half and three-and-a-half metres.

Having first ensured that the three people on board were not in need of any immediate assistance themselves, the lifeboat helm assessed the situation and made the decision that taking the vessel under tow was the safety way to assist the casualties.

The yacht was taken under tow to the nearest safe and suitable port, which was Ardglass Marina, by the Portaferry lifeboat.

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Portrush RNLI volunteers were tasked by HM Coastguard at 12:50pm on Saturday afternoon (19 August) to respond to a Mayday call made by a pleasure boat with three on board which was taking on water between Portstewart and Barmouth.

Launching at 1.15pm in Force 5 winds and moderate seas, the Portrush all-weather lifeboat made its way to the casualty vessel’s reported location off Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.

With reports that the vessel had sunk and three people in the water, the Portrush lifeboat arrived on scene within minutes — joining the Irish Coast Guard’s Sligo-based helicopter Rescue 118 and three other local boats who had also responded to the Mayday call.

One of the other local boats spotted the casualties and her crew brought two back to harbour. The Portrush lifeboat picked up the other casualty and returned to harbour where they were met by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and coastguard.

Beni McAllister, lifeboat operations manager at Portrush said: “The three casualties were very lucky in that they had buoyancy aids and also means of communication to call for help. Thank you too to our local boat-owners who responded so quickly to the call.”

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Larne RNLI were requested on Friday (18 August) to launch both of their lifeboats to reports of two people in the water some 200 metres from Portmuck in Islandmagee, on Northern Ireland’s East Antrim coast.

Launching both lifeboats at 3.25pm into rough seas with a stiff breeze as Storm Betty approached, the lifeboats made their way to the casualties’ reported location at Portmuck.

Upon arrival, the all-weather lifeboat Dr John McSparran located the first casualty floating near to the rocks at Portmuck Harbour.

The lifeboat moved alongside and one volunteer crew member entered the water in a dry suit to help the casualty, who was beginning to show the effects of being in the cold water for a prolonged period.

Using the hoist on the lifeboat, the casualty was brought onboard where the volunteer crew immediately started casualty care and administered oxygen.

At the same time, the smaller inshore lifeboat Terry had located the second casualty along with the small punt the casualties had been using. The punt had been taking on water and was mostly submerged.

The volunteer crew threw a rope to the casualty and brought him into the lifeboat. The casualty was then transferred into the large all-weather lifeboat where casualty care was administered.

Both lifeboats made their way to Larne Harbour where the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service was requested to meet the volunteer crew upon their arrival. Paramedics assessed both casualties and they were then transferred into the care of the NIAS.

Allan Dorman, Larne lifeboat operations manager said: “This was a challenging call for all of our volunteer crew members, but it is why we train regularly so that we are as prepared as we can be in scenarios like this.

“When you are planning to go to sea, ensure that you have a means of contacting the shore should you ever get into difficulties. It is vital to make sure that you are well prepared as the conditions can change very quickly and can catch out the most experienced sailors.”

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The RNLI has partnered with the UK’s Royal Life Saving Society to test the use of drones in emergency responses.

As Marine Industry News reports, RNLI lifeguards in Cornwall have been using a waterproof drone from Swell Pro to help observe bathers in the water as well as broadcast safety messages.

The specialised drones also have the potential to deploy lifesaving devices such as inflatable buoys to assist casualties.

Crantock Beach in Newquay, where the drone service developed with Eagle Eye Innovations is being tested, is divided by the River Gannel which makes the area difficult to patrol by conventional means.

“The drone will allow the lifeguards to undertake rapid observations across a wide area,” says lifeguard operations manager Peter Dawes.

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

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The RNLI’s new 200 Voices podcast launched on Friday 18 August with the first of 200 episodes that will be released daily in the run-up to the charity’s bicentenary on 4 March 2024

200 Voices will explore captivating stories from the history of the charity that saves lives at sea through to the modern day.

Since it was founded in 1824, the RNLI’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 144,000 lives across Ireland and the UK.

Funded by voluntary donations, and with lifeboats crewed by specially trained volunteers, the RNLI is a truly unique rescue organisation with a remarkable 200-year story to tell — many highlights of which are shared through the podcast series.

Available across all podcast platforms and the RNLI’s website, listeners can hear from survivors, supporters, volunteers, lifeguards, celebrity ambassadors, historians and many more.

The series will hear from celebrity ambassadors such as The Sixth Commandment actor Timothy Spall, Gavin and Stacey actress Ruth Jones, Irish musician Phil Coulter, gold medal Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie and BAFTA-winning actress Joanna Scanlan.

The unique podcast series will also hear from people whose lives have been touched by the lifesaving charity, including Milena Smith, whose daughter Mabel was rescued by Barmouth lifeboat volunteers; Radio Caroline DJ Nick Richards, who stuck with the pirate radio ship until its last moments; and Niamh Fitzpatrick, whose sister Dara tragically lost her life in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash.

RNLI strategic content manager Rory Stamp said: “We knew we had to do something really special to mark the RNLI’s 200th anniversary, which is such a monumental milestone.

“200 Voices is an incredible collection of stories that are emotive, powerful, inspiring and heart-warming. The series gives us a chance to hear from a whole variety of amazing people who have played a part in or been touched by our lifesaving charity.

“200 Voices is the first in a programme of activity planned to mark the RNLI’s bicentenary as we celebrate the world-class lifesaving service we provide today, remember our remarkable history and aim to inspire the future generations of lifesavers and supporters as we move through into the next 200 years.”

200 Voices is available on the RNLI website and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Dunmore East RNLI lifeboat crew called out twice yesterday (17 August) to assist two solo sailors who were part of the qualifying stages for a long-distance solo race.

Each sailor was piloting their own 6m sail-only vessels and had intended to make their way back to their homeport in France. However, unexpected weather complications meant they had to alter their course and seek the safe harbour of Dunmore East.

The first alarm came in at 1.57 pm, and the RNLI crew made their way to a location west of Hook Head, approximately four nautical miles from Dunmore East. The first sailor, who hailed from France and lacked engine power, was in good spirits and welcomed the RNLI's assistance. Given the deteriorating conditions, the crew opted to tow the vessel to Dunmore East.

The six-metre solo yacht is taken under tow by Dunmore East RNLI allweather lifeboatThe six-metre solo yacht is taken under tow by Dunmore East RNLI all-weather lifeboat

Scarcely had they returned to port at 3.17 pm when the Irish Coast Guard's second alert came through. Another sailor, part of the same race, also encountered difficulties, this time in a slightly different position, one nautical mile south of Hook Head. The RNLI crew, still in the midst of prepping their all-weather lifeboat 'William and Agnes Wray' from the prior mission, mobilised immediately. To ensure the safe transit of the second vessel, an RNLI crew member boarded, guiding it and its sailor back to Dunmore East.

 The second six-metre solo yacht is taken under tow by Dunmore East RNLI all-weather lifeboat The second six-metre solo yacht is taken under tow 

The day's efforts saw the seamless collaboration of the volunteer crew: Trevor, David M, Fergus, Paul, Luka, and notably Susan, who marked her first mission. Operations from the shore were managed by Deputy Launch Authority, Elaine Power and Lifeboat Operations Manager, Liz Power.

Peter Grogan, the Lifeboat Press Officer, commented on the day's events, stating, 'Despite the solo sailors being very experienced and well-equipped, today's situation underscores the unpredictability of the sea. Their foresight to carry a VHF radio was crucial, allowing them to call for assistance when needed. They did the right thing by calling for help. We can't stress enough the importance for all sea users to maintain a reliable means of communication at all times.'

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