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Wicklow RNLI all-weather lifeboat RNLB Joanna and Henry Williams was called out to assist a lone sailor on Thursday afternoon (13 April) after his vessel suffered steering failure.

The lifeboat slipped its moorings from the south quay at 2:50 pm following a crew pager alert and proceeded to sea under the command of Coxswain Ciaran Doyle and a volunteer crew.

Twelve minutes later the casualty vessel was located one-mile south-east of Wicklow Head Lighthouse. Visibility in the area was good with westerly wind force four and moderate sea.

The lone sailor on the 11-metre yacht was on passage from Dublin to Kerry and was passing Wicklow Head lighthouse when the steering failed. He then contacted the Coast Guard and asked for assistance.

Speaking after the callout, Coxswain Ciaran Doyle said, ‘We carried out a quick assessment of the vessel and as it had no steering, the only viable option was to tow the yacht back to Wicklow port. Alan Goucher was also transferred onto the yacht to assist the sailor while the boat was under tow.’

The yacht was secured alongside the East pier just before 4 pm and the sailor was landed safely ashore.

Speaking about the call out, Wicklow RNLI Press Officer, Tommy Dover said: ‘The sailor today was well equipped and was able to contact the Coast Guard for assistance; when going afloat we would remind everyone to check their engine and fuel, always wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, and carry a means of calling for help. If you see someone in difficulty on or near the water, dial 999 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The RNLI has revealed an increase in the number of our furry friends it plucked from the seas in 2022.

Man’s best friend made up the majority of the 209 creature callouts last year with the charity recording 164 dog rescues.

But there were also some surprises on the list of animals saved — in 2022 the charity was called upon to rescue 27 dolphins, two deer, a rabbit and even a snake.

The news coincides with this week’s launch of the paperback of Saved from the Waves, which is filled with first-hand accounts of dramatic animal rescues and takes the reader on a journey with volunteer lifeboat crews as they face the dangers of the sea to save beloved pets, wildlife and livestock.

From dramatic and heart-rending dog rescues and a walrus that made a lifeboat station his home, to saving a stranded cat on the River Thames and a seal pup caught between rocks, the book demonstrates how RNLI crews stop at nothing to save lives.

The book shines a light on the necessity of animal rescues, not only to save the animals at risk of drowning but to prevent people putting themselves in danger when trying to rescue their furry friends.

The paperback edition goes on sale at the RNLI online shop and all good bookshops from Thursday 13 April, with royalties from all sales supporting the charity that saves lives at sea.

Published in Rescue
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The RNLI is reminding those visiting the coast to be aware of the dangers with weather warnings in place for large parts of Ireland and the UK.

The Met Office and Met Éireann are forecasting winds could reach 100kmh or more in coastal locations and will be strongest across western parts of the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland from 3pm on Tuesday 11 April through to 8pm on Wednesday 12 April.

Orange weather warnings are in place on all coastal waters from south Wexford to Donegal — and in particular Met Éireann has issued a red storm warning for gales from Valentia to Loop Head active from 5am to 8am on Wednesday morning, forecasting west-to-northwesterly winds at times reaching violent storm Force 11.

Lifesaving charity the RNLI is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers. The expected strong winds will also bring heavy rain and pose a safety risk to those visiting the coast.

Throughout 2022, RNLI lifeboats launched into gale-force conditions and above more than 80 times, and in some instances faced hurricane-force wind speeds in excess of 112kmh which could create powerful seas as large as 14 metres high.

RNLI water safety manager Ross Macleod said: “This rough weather could make visiting our coasts around the UK and Ireland treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.

“Sadly, around 150 people accidentally lose their lives around UK and Irish waters each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.

“While people may want to experience extreme weather around the coast, we would strongly advice against doing so. It is not worth risking your life, so we strongly urge people to respect the water and watch from a safe distance.

“If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself — too many people drown trying to save others.”

The RNLI’s advice for anyone going on or near the water is:

  • Stay well back from stormy, wintery seas and cliff edges.
  • Check tide times before you go.
  • Take a phone with you.
  • In an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
Published in Weather
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In two back-to-back callouts on Easter Bank Holiday Monday (10 April), Lough Derg RNLI launched to search for a possible missing person and to assist a kayaker in difficulty in the water.

At 10.28am, Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI to launch following a report from a resident on Illaunmore that a speedboat was at an unsafe location north of the island and appeared not to have anyone on board.

Lough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Jean Spier was launched 11 minutes later with helm Eleanor Hooker, Doireann Kennedy, Chris Parker and Richard Nolan on board. Winds were west-southwest Force 3, gusting Force 6 with frequent heavy rain showers, but good visibility.

At 10.55am the RNLI lifeboat crew could see the casualty vessel at the location reported north of Illaunmore. They navigated the lifeboat through safe water to the casualty vessel, which was close to shore.

A lifeboat crew member waded in to the vessel and found it to be at anchor astern, with a line from its bow to a tree on the shore. As the vessel had been made secure, the RNLI volunteer checked through the cabin windows and was satisfied there was no one on board.

The lifeboat crew reported their findings to Valentia Coast Guard, who then stood them down.

Less than an hour later, they were called again — this time to assist a kayaker reported to be in difficulty in the water in Dromineer Bay, close to St David’s.

At 11.54am, Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker, Doireann Kennedy and Chris Parker on board. Conditions were similar to those of earlier in the morning, with strong westerly winds and frequent squalls.

En route, two kayakers informed the RNLI crew that they were a party of four and that their companion was in the water to the right of St David’s. A third kayaker paddling to safety pointed towards the location of the kayaker in the water. The RNLI volunteers quickly located this individual, whose profile was low in the water.

Moments later the lifeboat was alongside the casualty, who had managed to get up on and lie lengthways on their upturned kayak. The casualty was taken onto the lifeboat along with the kayak and paddle. The kayaker was feeling cold but was not exhibiting signs of hypothermia.

While taking the casualty to safety, the lifeboat met the other three kayakers rowing a sheltered route in the lee of Goose Island. The lifeboat remained with them until they reached safe harbour.

Once delivered safely back on land, the RNLI volunteers advised all four kayakers to change immediately into dry clothing and to have a warm drink.

Aoife Kennedy, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI said the earlier callout was a “false alarm but with good intent”. She thanked the public for their vigilance, and advises all lake users to “check the weather before going afloat and to remember that the water is still cold at this time of year so do dress appropriately for your activity”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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This Easter bank holiday weekend, the Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal asking people to take some basic precautions to stay safe when they visit the coast or participate in water activities, coastal or inland.

With the evenings getting brighter and the weather improving, more people are expected to get out on the water and knowing some simple water safety advice could help prevent an accident or tragedy. Spring tides will also be this weekend, which means higher than normal water levels at full tide. This can increase the risk of getting cut off by tide, so people are asked to be mindful before planning a trip.

The three organisations are issuing some important safety advice to people who will be engaging in a range of water-based activities.

If heading out on the water or visiting the coast:

  • Always check the weather and tides
  • Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm (i.e., phone or VHF radio)
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
  • Wear a suitable Personal Flotation Device on the water
  • Watch out for incoming tides to avoid getting cut off

If you are swimming:

  • Water temperatures are still cold at this time of the year, consider wearing a wetsuit to stay warm
  • Acclimatise slowly
  • Wear a bright swimming cap and consider a tow float to increase your visibility
  • Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague

If you are kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding:

  • Always have a means for calling for help and make sure you can access it when you are out on the water
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return
  • Wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid
  • Always check the weather forecast and sea conditions before you set off.
  • Paddle in a group where possible. If you're exploring somewhere new, seek knowledge from experienced practitioners in the area.

Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager Micheál O’Toole said: ‘Many people will take the opportunity of the Easter long weekend to visit the coast and take part in coastal or water-based activity. Having some basic water safety knowledge in advance could make an enormous difference and even save a life. People need to be mindful that the water is very cold at this time of year, and it is easy to be caught out by tides. Never ever swim alone and if you are using a boat or kayak, let someone know you are out and when expected back. Please ensure that if an emergency arises and you need assistance, that you are capable of contacting the Coast Guard with a marine VHF radio, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or EPIRB. Never rely on a mobile phone alone.’

Lisa Hollingum, RNLI Water Safety Delivery Support added: ‘By taking a few simple steps, everyone can reduce the risk of an accident in or near the water. If you fall in unexpectedly, remember to ‘Float to Live’ – lie on your back and spread your arms and legs, gently moving them to keep afloat. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby.’

Water Safety Ireland’s Deputy CEO Roger Sweeney said: ‘School children are particularly at risk on Easter holiday family trips to waterways nationwide. They are naturally curious about water and require close, uninterrupted adult supervision. Have a water safety conversation with the children in your care. Teach them the advice available at and be summer ready at’

Published in Water Safety
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Courtown RNLI rescued a dog this afternoon after it got separated from its owner and got stuck on rocks below Ardamine Church.

The volunteer crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their inshore lifeboat at approximately 2 pm and launched shortly after at 2.10 pm with helm Robbie Ireton and crew members Peter Browne and Amy Dowdall onboard. They arrived on scene at 2.14 pm and observed that Courtown Coast Guard’s shore unit were on scene but couldn’t reach the dog due to the steep rocky terrain.

The conditions were favourable at the time with partial cloud and a slight wind.

Having assessed the situation, a decision was made for crew members Peter and Amy to swim ashore and climb up on the rocks and work together to fasten a harness around the large dog. Due to its size and the slippiness of the rocks, this proved challenging and the crew had to work to carry the dog carefully from rock to rock, until they managed to hand it safely over to the Coast Guard, who then reunited the dog with its relieved owner.

The lifeboat then returned to the station where there was plenty of shore crew to assist with washing the boat and leaving it ready for the next call out.

Speaking following the call out, Jim Murphy, Courtown RNLI Deputy Launching Authority said: ‘This was the first call out of the year and we were delighted to assist in reuniting the dog safe and well with its owner.

We would encourage pet owners to keep their animal on a lead when close to cliff edges, and slippery surfaces. If your pet does go into the water or gets stuck on rocks, don’t attempt a rescue yourself, they will probably get out themselves. If you are worried and need help, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lifeguards from the RNLI return to beaches in Northern Ireland this week as the charity, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and National Trust prepare and get ready for another busy season.

From this Good Friday (7 April) through to Sunday 16 April, lifeguards will be providing a patrol from 11am to 7pm on Benone Strand, Portrush West Strand, Portrush East Strand, Whiterocks and Ballycastle and from 10am to 6pm on Portstewart Strand.

Last summer RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland saved 13 lives, aided over 450 people and responded to over 300 incidents as over 650,000 people visit a RNLI lifeguarded beach in NI in 2022.

The RNLI works in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, the National Trust and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council each year to set up and roll out a lifeguard service at their request.

Before a lifeguard sets foot on a beach, they take part in months of training. From a rigorous fitness test to learning vital casualty care skills, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment in order to save lives at the beach. 

As well as rescuing those in trouble in the water, RNLI lifeguards have to deal with multiple lost children, minor first aids including cuts and stings, major first aids including fractures and critical illnesses and provide safety advice to beachgoers to ensure they enjoyed their day at the beach as safely as possible. 

Michael Thompson, RNLI regional lifeguard lead said: “RNLI lifeguards are at the forefront of the charity’s lifesaving work, as they keep beach visitors safe across the Causeway Coast and in Co Down. Last year’s figures show the importance of our lifeguards and what they do for the public, we are expecting coastal areas to be just as busy in the summer season ahead.

“The RNLI has been working closely with the councils, the National Trust and local communities to ensure the beaches and lifeguard units are ready and equipped, and that lifeguard training has been performed seamlessly.

“Pre-season preparations have gone well, and our lifeguards are looking forward to getting back on the beaches and doing what they do best; offering preventative safety advice to visitors and rescuing those in difficulty in the water or on the beach itself.

“However, it is important to remember that our lifeguards can’t be everywhere. Our lifeguards will be supported by the charity’s 24/7 lifeboat service and water safety work, but we urge anyone visiting the coast to take responsibility for themselves and their family this summer.”

Both Causeway Coast and Glens and Newry, Mourne and Down District Councils and the National Trust invest each year in keeping their beach visitors safe by contributing to RNLI costs, which helps to meet lifeguard wages, while the extensive training and equipment needed is provided by the charity through public donations. RNLI lifeguards work alongside other emergency services and teams integral to an enjoyable visit to the beach.

Meanwhile, the RNLI is urging anyone visiting the coast this summer to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following their beach safety advice:

  • Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks.
  • For activities like paddle boarding or kayaking, wear a wetsuit with a buoyancy aid or lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help in a waterproof pouch and keep it on you. Tell someone what you are doing, where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • If you are going open water swimming, use a wetsuit to keep you warm, wear a brightly coloured swim hat and take a tow float to store personal items including a phone for emergencies
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
  • In an emergency dial 999 in NI and ask for the coastguard.

In addition, the RNLI is still recruiting for lifeguard positions for anyone interested. You will receive world-class lifesaving training, enjoy good rates of pay, the possibility of flexible working patterns and develop valuable skills for their future career. Find out more about becoming a lifeguard at

Skerries RNLI responded on Sunday evening (26 March) to reports that there was possibly a person in distress in the water off the south strand in Skerries.

Dublin Coast Guard tasked the lifeboat volunteers in Skerries shortly before 8pm after a member of the public had dialled 999 to report clothing on the beach in Skerries and a dog running around the beach distressed.

Skerries Coast Guard unit responded to the incident and shortly after arriving on scene spotted an object floating in the water between the beach and Colt Island. With the concern that there may be a person in distress in the water, the lifeboat was requested to investigate the object and carry out a search of the area.

The inshore lifeboat was promptly launched and after navigating around the headland at Red Island was on scene in a matter of minutes.

Liaising with the Skerries Coast Guard unit, the lifeboat began to search the approximate area that the object had been spotted. The volunteer crew soon spotted several semi-submerged lobster pots in the area and reported this back to Skerries Coast Guard unit on the shoreline before continuing the search.

With the area thoroughly searched and no further indications that a person had entered the water, the lifeboat was stood down and returned to station where it was refuelled, washed down and made ready for the next callout.

Conditions at the time had Force 3-4 southerly winds with slight swell.

This was the third callout for Skerries RNLI in a number of days. On Thursday evening (23 March) hey assisted in a multi-agency rescue alongside Dublin Fire Brigade, An Garda Siochana and the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 after a car entered the water from the slipway in Skerries.

Then on Saturday (25 March) the volunteers were paged following reports of a swimmer in difficulty near the popular Skerries swimming spot known as the Springers. However, it was confirmed visually by lifeboat operations manager Niall McGrotty that the man did not need assistance and had made his way ashore.

Speaking about the callouts, Skerries RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It’s been a busy few days for our volunteers but they are ready to respond to any call for help, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“Thankfully in this instance it was a false alarm with good intent and we always encourage anyone who thinks someone may be in trouble on or near the water to dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Getting Wicklow RNLI lifeboat to a casualty and getting them home is the basis of what Lifeboat volunteers do, but when there is an ill or injured person to care for, what kind of training do RNLI have for that?

A group of eleven of volunteer crew took on the challenge of learning the skills, procedures and techniques required to pass the RNLI’s rigorous Casualty Care training course. They gave up approximately 30 hours of their time over the course of two weeks to enable them to complete the training successfully. Wicklow RNLI welcomed Stephen O’Flaherty of RNLI Casualty Care Trainer to the station to conduct the training.

A group of eleven Wicklow RNI crew took on the challenge of learning the skills, procedures and techniques required to pass the RNLI’s rigorous Casualty Care training courseA group of eleven Wicklow RNI crew took on the challenge of learning the skills, procedures and techniques required to pass the RNLI’s rigorous Casualty Care training course

The course is designed to enable crew to provide correct and effective care to a casualty until such time as they can be handed over to the expert care of paramedics or doctors.

Sometimes the care given takes place in hostile and unrelenting conditions adding an extra layer of complexity to the training required by volunteers.

The training revolves around hands on practical applications rather than concentrating on complex theory. The RNLI employ the use of check cards to assist its volunteers in carrying out the proper care. This allows the crew to concentrate on the practical application of Casualty Care without having to try and remember complex procedures in the middle of a difficult rescue.

During the training each crewmember must pass practical and written assessments to demonstrate their own individual skills. The final part of the assessments involves the crewmembers working in pods together to asses and treat a casualty in a practical scenario.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew at Clifden RNLI were called out on Sunday 19 March to assist a vessel suffering mechanical failure near the island of Inishturk in Co Galway.

At noon the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat launched under the command of helm James Mullen with Joe Acton and Kenny Flaherty as crew and Shane Conneely as tractor driver.

A call had come in from a local fisherman John O’Toole about a small boat with three passengers which had lost power near Inishturk, south of Omey Island.

Conditions at sea were poor with limited visibility and heavy rain, and the casualty vessel was reportedly drifting towards rocks.

The volunteer crew made their way to the location in less than five minutes, by this time O’Toole had begun to tow the stricken vessel away from the rocks. The lifeboat crew proceeded to escort both boats to safety.

Speaking about the callout, Mullen said: “I would like to commend John O’Toole for his fast actions yesterday. This could have been a very serious outcome for the three passengers involved but John called for assistance firstly, located the boat and was in a position to safely assist them.”

The lifeboat helm also has the following advice for anyone going afloat: “When going to sea we would remind everyone to check their engine and fuel, always wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid and carry a means of calling for help. If you see someone in difficulty on or near the water, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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