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John first became involved in 1987 and was fully enrolled as a crew member by 1988. He went on to become a helm on three Atlantic class lifeboats: the Atlantic 21 Marjory Turner, Atlantic 75 Patricia Jennings and the current Atlantic 85 Gordon and Phil.
He also served as lifeboat training co-ordinator between 2001-2009 and again between 2016-2017.
Speaking on the night, John said: “Since I started with the RNLI 30 years ago, I’ve seen many changes and big improvements, the standard of training is so high these days.”
There have been many memorable rescues for John over the years. One he remembers from his early days happened one summer evening, when a man from Cork city traveled to Youghal to try out his new surfboard that he’d received as a birthday gift.
John recalls: “The man had booked a surfing lesson, but the teacher was late so he decided to go out on his own. Shortly after he entered the water, he began to be swept out to sea with the offshore breeze.
“When we arrived the man was in the water and being carried further out to sea, he was freezing cold. Had we not arrived when we did, the outcome could have been very different.”
During his 30 years with Youghal RNLI, John Innes was instrumental in saving 34 lives at sea.
Deputy launching authority Brendan O’Driscoll said: “The time, effort and commitment John has shown to Youghal RNLI over the last 30 years has been outstanding.
“On behalf of everybody at the lifeboat station, I would like to thank him for the immense contribution he has made over the years and we all wish him well in his future endeavours.”
Only the bow of the 24ft boat was visible when the lifeboat crew arrived. A towline was set up and the vessel was brought as close to the pier as possible on the falling tide.
With assistance from the local coastguard unit, the boat was secured with two rides for the owner to attend too at low tide, Youghal RNLI reports.
The UK-registered yacht en route from Kinsale to Crosshaven broadcast a PAN PAN alert after its skipper spotted smoke in his engine bay.
Crosshaven’s crew of Warren Forbes, Denis Cronin, Aidan O’Connor and Derek Moynan were paged at 4.13pm and launched their inshore lifeboat to the reported position.
Once on scene, they assessed that there was no fire in the engine bay, but that the engine was disabled.
The casualty vessel was then towed to Crosshaven boatyard and safely berthed.
Crosshaven RNLI helm Warren Forbes said: “A fire onboard a vessel is a sailor's worst nightmare but fortunately no fire was observed when we arrived on scene.
“The yachtsman made the correct decision by not opening the engine bay and calling for help.”
Fortunately the swimmer managed to get to safely back to shore as the inshore lifeboat arrived at the scene.
At 3.40pm on Tuesday 4 June, Clifden RNLI was requested to launch its all-weather and inshore lifeboats to assist the nine-metre fishing vessel with one onboard just east of Turbot Island in Co Galway.
Clifden’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat Joyce King, helmed by Daniel Whelan and with four volunteer crew onboard, launched first and made good time to the fishing vessel, which was drifting south.
The fishing vessel was quickly taken under tow back to Clifden pier as Clifden RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched to provide backup.
Weather conditions on scene had a north-west winds of Force 5-6 with a slight sea.
Speaking following the callout, new volunteer Ashling Sweeney said: “This was my first callout for Clifden RNLI today and I was happy to gain the experience of putting my training into action.”
Around the same time on Tuesday, Youghal RNLI in East Cork were requested to launch to an eight-metre yacht adrift in the harbour with no people onboard.
The volunteer crew launched their inshore lifeboat in a moderate north westerly breeze and were with the yacht within minutes.
On arrival, the crew determined that the yacht was dragging its mooring. A crew member boarded the yacht and cut the mooring line before the crew established a tow and bought the yacht safely back to the pontoon were the coastguard were waiting to assist.
Derry Walsh, Youghal RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: “As we approach the summer season, we would remind sailors and boat owners to ensure the appropriate safety, engine and fuel checks are completed ahead of any trip as well as ensuring vessels are safely secured on their moorings.”
hHelmed by Liam Keogh, the inshore lifeboat was on scene within minutes, in clear conditions.
The casualty boat was tied up at its moorings in Youghal Harbour, with the two people onboard trying to pump the water out with a hand pump.
Two lifeboat crew boarded the vessel with a salvage pump and made sure the people onboard were well. They then used the salvage pump to pump the water out.
The lifeboat crew requested the coastguard for quayside assistance and towed the leisure craft safely back to the slip where it was taken ashore on a trailer.
Speaking later, Youghal RNLI helm Liam Keogh said: “This was a smooth callout for the crew and we were delighted to be able to help.”
The East Cork lifeboat station’s community safety team will be running a number of events throughout the summer and are inviting individuals and groups to get in touch if they would like the team to speak to them.
Mick Walsh, Youghal RNLI’s volunteer community safety officer, said while the RNLI wants people to have a fun and enjoyable summer, the charity also wants people to do that with safety in mind.
“Whether you are a swimmer, a watersports enthusiast, an angler, a boater or just enjoy walking on the beach, it is important for you to understand that there are risks involved with all water and water-side activities.
“It doesn’t matter what your activity might be, or how many times you’ve done it, accidents can happen.
“Part of our role is to help educate and share our knowledge with the public. We want to talk to people, to help them understand the risks better and to listen to their experiences.”
Walsh said the RNLI has lots of safety advice on how to respect the water.
“Most people who end up in trouble at the coast didn’t intend being in the water so it’s important to know what do to if you do get into difficulty and end up in cold water.
“The RNLI’s national drowning prevention campaign is called Respect the Water and lots of information can be found on the dedicated site www.RespectTheWater.com, including how to float should you get into difficulty.
“We want people to learn and remember simple messages such as how to call for help. Dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard if you or someone you see is in trouble.
“We can help people choose the best communication device for their activity. We also want people to wear a lifejacket or floatation device when on the water.
“Again we can help you choose the right PFD for your activity. We will also show you how to take care of your PFD properly.”
To get in touch with Youghal RNLI’s community safety team, contact Mick Walsh at [email protected]
You can also keep an eye on Youghal RNLI’s Facebook page for more information detailing the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign, which launches later this month, and to find out when the community safety team is active.
The volunteer crew launched the inshore lifeboat Gordon and Phil within four minutes of returning to station in fresh conditions.
They quickly reached the troubled vessel with two men wearing lifejackets onboard.
A tow line was established and the boat was safely towed back to the ferry slip in Youghal where it was handed over to the owner at 3.40pm, just 10 minutes after launch.
Mark Nolan, deputy kaunching authority at Youghal RNLI, said: “The two people onboard had the good sense to anchor the boat as soon as they started to experience engine trouble.
“They had both a VHF radio and mobile phone with them also and so were able to call for help quickly. It is essential to carry some form of communication with you when you go out on the water.
“We would also like to say well done to all of our shore crew today, all of which were new recruits.”
Recently Youghal RNLI received a cheque for more than €3,000 raised by the Ardmore Christmas Day swim, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
The event was first organised in 1997 and has successfully run every Christmas Day since. The swim is always well supported by the local community and 2018’s was no exception.
The swimmers met on the beach at Ardmore at 12.15pm on Christmas Day in dry but chilly conditions and made the dash into the water for a quick dip before heading back to the beach for a hot drink.
Youghal RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, Gordon and Phil, and her volunteer crew were there on the day to oversee the safety of the swimmers.
Lifeboat operations manager Derry Walsh said: “We would like to send our thanks to everyone who came out on Christmas Day and took part in the swim, and a special thank you to those who have organised the swim over the last 22 years.
“The RNLI depend on the generosity of the public to save lives at sea, and this donation will help to ensure our lifeboat and crew are always ready when they are called upon.”
Elsewhere, a callout for Larne RNLI to a suspected vessel in trouble on Friday evening (29 March) turned out to be false alarm as smoke seen rising from a vessel at the Maidens was part of a training exercise.
Paul Johnston, Larne RNLI deputy launching authority, said: “We would like to commend the member of the public for contacting the coastguard and raising the alarm. We would always much rather launch to find all is safe and well than not launch at all.”
There was no one on board the pleasure craft the time.
In heavy rain and squally conditions, the inshore lifeboat crew pumped the water from the vessel, then towed it safely back to the pier head in Youghal and handed it over to the awaiting coastguard. The lifeboat returned to the station at 12.07pm.
Youghal RNLI helm Patsy O’Mahoney said: “We went out this morning to practice our skills and ended up having to use them in a real situation.
“The water can be unpredictable at the best of times, but it is particularly dangerous during bad weather. We urge everyone to respect the water at all times.”
On Saturday 16 February, the East Cork lifeboat station welcomed sisters Aisling and Leanne Hehir who recently celebrated their birthdays, with Aisling turning 18 and Leanne 21.
Instead of gifts, they asked their family and friends to make a donation to Youghal RNLI. In total they raised €590.
Patsy O’Mahoney, helm at Youghal RNLI, said: “We are all very touched by such a generous and thoughtful donation, we would like to sincerely thank Aisling and Leanne and everyone who helped them to celebrate their birthdays.”
The station also received a donation of €1,358 from Youghal Rotary Club, who in conjunction with the Regal Cinema, organised a fantastic fundraising night at the movies.
Filmgoers were treated to delicious canapes, a glass of wine and a screening of award-winning documentary The Camino Voyage.
Derry Walsh, Youghal RNLI’s lifeboat operation manager, said: “We would like to express our deep gratitude to Youghal Rotary Club, the Regal Cinema and to all who came along on the night.
“This donation will enable our volunteers to continue saving lives at sea.”