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Larne RNLI will celebrate 30 years of lifesaving with an open day at the lifeboat station on Northern Ireland’s East Antrim coast this Saturday 22 June from noon to 4pm.

Everyone is welcome to join the volunteer crew to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Events on the day will include a barbecue, kids treasure hunt, glitter tattoos (for all ages!), a fundraising pop-up shop as well as a visit from some friends in the emergency services.

You’ll also have the chance to meet the station’s dedicated volunteers, learn about how they train and the different types of rescues they have experienced over the last 30 years.

The crew will also share top water safety tips on how to enjoy the beautiful Antrim coast safely this summer whether you’re planning a fishing trip, swimming, kayaking or just an enjoyable day by the beach.

2024 is also the RNLI’s 200th anniversary. Since the charity was founded in 1824 following an appeal from Sir William Hillary, who lived on the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks, the RNLI has continued saving lives at sea throughout the tests of its history.

Two centuries have seen vast developments in the lifeboats and kit used by the charity’s lifesavers — from the early oar-powered vessels to today’s technology-packed boats, which are now built in-house by the charity; and from the rudimentary cork lifejackets of the 1850s to the full protective kit each crew member is now issued with.

The RNLI’s lifesaving reach and remit has also developed over the course of 200 years. The charity designs and builds its own lifeboats and runs domestic and international water safety programmes.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s open day, Jonathan Shirley, Larne RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to the lifeboat station on Saturday to help celebrate 30 years of saving lives at sea. It is a really good opportunity to learn some more about what we do and to have some fun at the same time. Everyone is welcome.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to join in the celebrations with Larne RNLI from noon to 4pm on 22 June at Larne Lifeboat Station on the Olderfleet Road.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI were requested to launch on Monday afternoon (17 June) to assist two people on a 16ft speed boat that ran aground in Youghal Bay after suffering engine failure.

At 1.31pm, the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Chris Parker, James Corballis and Deirdre Gleeson on board. The wind was westerly, Force 2 to 3, and visibility was good.

The lifeboat located the casualty vessel close to the shore deep inside Youghal Bay, in an area known by the RNLI volunteers to be particularly sandy.

As the lifeboat navigated a safe course to the boat, crew noticed that the two casualties were standing among the reeds close to the vessel.

After getting as close to the casualty vessel as was safe, an RNLI volunteer, carrying a handheld VHF radio and a general purpose line, was able to wade to the casualty vessel. The two people were asked to get back on board and the RNLI volunteer then eased the vessel off the sandbank and out into safe water.

Given the isolated location and that the casualties' change of dry clothes, car and trailer were located at the closest safe haven, Garrykennedy Harbour, the helm made the decision to take the vessel under an astern tow to Garrykennedy.

An RNLI volunteer remained on board the casualty vessel for the tow and the casualty vessel was safely tied alongside in Garrykennedy Harbour at 2.15pm.

Jeremy Freeman, launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI, advises boat users to “wear your lifejackets, and always carry a means of communication”.

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Clogherhead RNLI volunteers were called upon to assist a disabled vessel off the northeast coast near Clogherhead.

Clogherhead Coast Guard requested that Clogherhead RNLI volunteers launch the Shannon class all-weather lifeboat on Sunday, 16th June, at approximately 4.30 p.m. to aid a vessel that had become disabled off the coast of Clogherhead.

Weather conditions were favourable, with calm seas and good visibility. It took seven minutes from launching on the beach for the lifeboat to reach the scene where the disabled vessel was. It had already been secured by tow to another vessel when they arrived. Clogherhead RNLI volunteers were requested to accompany both vessels to the security of nearby Port Oriel Harbour, Clogherhead, as a precaution, which they duly did.

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To mark National Water Safety Awareness Week in Ireland, this Tuesday (18 June) the RNLI will launch its Float to Live campaign at the Forty Foot swimming spot in Sandycove with a demonstration on how to carry out the technique that could prove lifesaving for anyone who finds themselves in difficulty in the water this summer.

The demonstration will show a person in plain clothing accidentally entering the water before using the Float to Live skill to survive.

Members of the RNLI’s water safety team, with representatives from Dun Laoghaire RNLI, will be on hand to explain the Float to Live technique and the importance of having proper water safety advice and equipment when visiting the coast or inland waters during the summer.

Linda-Gene Byrne, RNLI water safety lead said: “We are approaching the summer holidays which we expect to be incredibly busy at the coast and across open water. We want everyone to enjoy being around the water, but we also want to make sure people stay safe and know what to do in an emergency.

“It is important that anyone visiting open water understands the risks which can be present. We want to make sure people know what to do in an emergency.

“If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live: tilt your head back with ears submerged and try to relax and control your breathing. Use your hands to help you stay afloat and then, once you are through the initial shock, call for help to or swim to safety if you can.”

Research by the RNLI and University of Portsmouth’s Extreme Environments Laboratory shows that floating is different for everyone, where some people naturally float with little movement, others require gentle use of their hands and legs to stay afloat.

The technique has been tested in different open water environments, which shows that Float to Live is helpful both at the coast and in inland waters.

If you find yourself in difficulty in the water, Float to Live:

  • Tilt your head back with ears submerged
  • Relax and try to control your breathing
  • Use your hands to help you stay afloat
  • It's OK if your legs sink, we all float differently
Published in Water Safety

Bangor RNLI launched to the aid of two people on Wednesday evening (12 June) after their boat encountered engine problems near Groomsport.

At 8.35pm, Bangor’s RNLI volunteers launched their Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Jessie Hillyard following a request from Belfast Coastguard to assess a situation where a boat with two people onboard had encountered engine problems on its journey from Portpatrick to Bangor in Northern Ireland.

Weather conditions on Belfast Lough at the time were dry, slightly overcast with a calm sea state and little breeze. The sky was clear and visibility was good.

The crew made their way to the scene and located the casualty vessel one mile north of Groomsport harbour. They then spoke to the people onboard and found them to be safe and well and both wearing lifejackets.

After assessing the situation, the lifeboat crew decided to tow the casualty vessel to the nearest safe harbour at Bangor Marina as it had no means of propulsion.

Speaking following the call-out, Bangor RNLI helm Peter Semple said: “The boat owner did exactly the correct thing by calling us out to help, which we were only too happy to do.

“We would urge all boat owners to carry out regular maintenance checks on our vessel. Carry spare fuel if possible and ensure that you have a means for calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble.

“If you see someone in trouble on the water or are in difficulties yourself do not hesitate to call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A Donegal cyclist is set to embark on a mammoth world-record cycle attempt, riding unsupported from Malin to Mizen — a 1,225km route from one end of Ireland to the other — and back.

The gruelling non-stop ride is set to be a test of endurance but also a fundraising effort from Karol McNern from Ballyshannon, who is a former lifeboat crew member and helm at Bundoran RNLI.

The Co Donegal lifeboat station is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year while the charity is marking its 200th anniversary.

Karol’s ambitious ride aims to break both the World UltraCycling Association (WUCA) record and a Guinness World Record, drawing attention to the lifesaving work of Bundoran RNLI.

The funds raised will go directly to supporting the work of the volunteer crew in saving lives at sea.

Karol said: “Having served as a crew member and a helm, I know first hand the importance of the lifeboat service to a community. This ride is my way of giving back and raising awareness for the incredible work all the Bundoran team do.”

The ride will commence at Malin Head, the northernmost point of Ireland, continue onto Mizen Head, the southernmost point and then return back up the country to Malin Head.

Karol will face various challenges including unpredictable weather conditions, rugged terrain and the sheer physical and mental demands of cycling non-stop across such a vast distance. He will continue this journey unsupported, making it an even tougher challenge.

Supporters can make a donation and follow Karol’s progress through live updates on social media and contribute to his fundraising campaign.

Daimon Fergus, Bundoran RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “We are incredibly grateful to Karol for thinking of us in this way and we wish him the best of luck as he takes on this challenge. His journey is an inspiration to us all and highlights his dedication, resilience and a sense of community spirit.

“Donations from Karol’s cycle will go towards helping us maintain our lifeboat and associated equipment as well as supporting the training of our crew members, and the overall operational costs.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI joined the Strangford ferry service and Portaferry Coastguard on Sunday morning (9 June) for a planned man-overboard exercise on Strangford Lough.

The exercise focused on an alert that one, then two people had fallen overboard. There was a Force 4-5 light westerly breeze at the time and a slightly choppy sea.

The ferry crew nominated spotters to track the location of the casualties in the water while their Strangford II rescue boat was launched with three crew onboard.

The importance of loud and precise instruction was demonstrated, and the first casualty was brought out of the water by the ferry’s rescue boat within minutes.

Portaferry RNLI’s volunteer crew launched promptly when contacted by the coastguard and were able to locate the second casualty quickly.

Once they were lifted out of the water, the volunteer lifeboat crew assessed their condition before both were brought to shore and handed over to Portaferry Coastguard, who continued casualty care alongside RNLI volunteers.

Portaferry RNLI and HM Coastguard Portaferry continued with casualty care once ashore | Credit: RNLI/Heather KennedyPortaferry RNLI and HM Coastguard Portaferry continued with casualty care once ashore | Credit: RNLI/Heather Kennedy

The exercise was observed by representatives from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and both the senior and principal engineers from the Strangford ferry service.

After a detailed debrief of the exercise, everyone involved enjoyed breakfast in Portaferry lifeboat station.

Captain Robert Anderson of the Strangford ferry service said: “The exercise went well and highlighted the difficulty of retrieving a casualty from the water.

“It was a valuable hour, and good to have cooperation from both the RNLI and HM Coastguard providing a more realistic scenario rather than our usual drills. The ferry crew responded quickly, worked as a team and gained experience.”

Heather Kennedy, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager added: “It’s important that anyone visiting open water understands the risks of the environment.

“As we approach the summer holidays, we want everyone to enjoy being around the water, but also want to make sure people stay safe and know what to do in an emergency.

“Check weather and tide times before venturing out, always wear a lifejacket or suitable flotation device for your activity and always carry a means of communication. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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In a dramatic rescue operation, the Galway RNLI saved three individuals after their boat capsized off Salthill yesterday evening. The Irish Coast Guard swiftly dispatched the volunteer crew following reports of a small boat in distress off Blackrock in Salthill, with three people in the water. The alarm was raised by a vigilant individual on a nearby boat.

Helm Dave Badger, Aaron Connolly, Sean King, and James Rattigan quickly launched the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat and made their way to the scene. Fortunately, sea conditions were favourable, with good visibility enabling the crew to promptly reach the location.

The stranded individuals, who had been in the water for approximately thirty minutes, were successfully rescued and brought safely onboard the lifeboat. They received immediate medical assessment and care before being transferred to shore. Volunteer shore crew assisted with first aid upon the lifeboat's return to the station. Subsequently, paramedics from the National Ambulance Service evaluated the casualties before transporting them to the hospital for further treatment.

The dedicated efforts of the lifeboat crew did not end there, as they ventured back out to sea to secure the capsized boat, towing it back to Galway Docks to prevent it from posing a hazard to others.

Reflecting on the operation, Galway RNLI Helm Dave Badger praised the swift action of a member of the public on another boat, whose alertness was crucial in initiating the rescue. Badger emphasised the significance of wearing lifejackets, which aided in keeping the individuals afloat and visible throughout the incident.

"Accidents can occur unexpectedly, and wearing a lifejacket buys you precious time until help arrives," Badger remarked, stressing the life-saving importance of correctly fitted and maintained lifejackets.

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At 10.55pm on Friday evening (7 June), Enniskillen RNLI’s inshore lifeboat John and Jean Lewis was launched at the request of Belfast Coastguard to assess a boat with six people onboard, which had encountered difficulties while making its way from Enniskillen in the direction of Castle Archdale.

Weather conditions at the time on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland were blowing a westerly Force 3 wind and visibility was poor.

The volunteer crew located the casualty vessel which had run aground on rocks close to Marker 58R1. The crew assessed those onboard and found them to be safe and well and wearing lifejackets.

The crew then made the decision to tow the vessel to the nearest safe jetty as the casualty vessel could not make good progress without assistance.

Speaking following the call-out, Enniskillen RNLI helm Paul Keown said: “Now that we are in the summer season, we would urge all boat owners to carry out regular maintenance checks on your vessel, make sure you have the relevant charts required before starting your journey, lifejackets for all on board and a means of calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble.

“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

Youghal RNLI’s volunteer crew in East Cork were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 4.03pm on Sunday (9 June) to assist a sailor onboard a 35ft yacht that had suffered steering failure some two miles south of Mine Head Lighthouse.

The request came from the Irish Coast Guard following a report that a sailor had been experiencing problems with steering and requested assistance.

Weather conditions were cloudy with a moderate breeze and a choppy sea state.

Around 20 minutes after launching, the lifeboat crew arrived on scene and located the vessel. One crew member boarded the boat and assisted the sailor to rig an emergency steering tiller, which was successful in getting the vessel moving.

Upon further assessment of the situation, a decision was made that the lifeboat would escort the sailor to the safety of Helvick Head harbour in Co Waterford.

Helvick Head RNLI’s lifeboat later launched and once on scene, one crew member went onboard the casualty vessel and the lifeboat from Helvick Head then escorted the sailor back to the safety of the harbour.

Youghal RNLI was stood down and their crew member was transferred back to the lifeboat which then returned to station.

Speaking after the call-out, Youghal RNLI helm Liam Keogh said: “The owner of the boat made the right decision in calling for help as soon as they experienced difficulty, allowing both lifeboats to assist in returning the sailor to safety.

“Anyone can experience difficulty once on the water so we encourage everyone to carry a means of communication before heading out to sea. Should you get into difficulty, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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