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Castletownbere Lifeboat Rescues Yachtsman In Marathon 12-Hour Mission

21st August 2016
Castletownbere RNLI rescues a lone yachtsman during a 12-hour mission at sea Castletownbere RNLI rescues a lone yachtsman during a 12-hour mission at sea Photo: RNLI/Castletownbere

#RNLI - The Castletownbere lifeboat Annette Hutton was launched early yesterday morning (Saturday 20 August) when Valentia Coast Guard Radio requested assistance to a yacht in difficulties 45 miles south of Mizen Head in West Cork.

The 8m yacht with one person on board had left the Azores in early August and ran into difficulties in yesterday's severe weather.

The sailor, in his 60s, had been in regular radio contact with Valentia Coast Guard radio until yesterday morning, when his VHF radio was washed overboard. He activated an EPIRB to identify his location, raise the alarm and seek help.

The lifeboat, under the command of coxswain Brian O’Driscoll, was launched at 8am and located the casualty at 10.40am, some 50 miles south-west of Castletownbere. An Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter was also on scene. Conditions were described as gusting Force 8/9 winds with a 30ft swell.

Amid the challenging sea conditions, the yacht was taken under tow and the lifeboat proceeded slowly to Castletownbere. Early into the tow, the lifeboat crew became concerned about the wellbeing of the sailor and the crew managed to transfer him to the lifeboat.

With the damaged yacht in tow, the lifeboat returned to Castletownbere at 8.30pm, having been at sea for 12-and-a-half hours.

Last night the sailor thanked the Castletownbere lifeboat and all involved for "saving his life", saying: "Only for the lifeboat, things would have ended up very badly today."

Commenting on the callout, Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat operations manager Tony O’Sullivan added: "The coxswain and crew are to be complimented on today’s rescue – they demonstrated skill, seamanship and endurance during what was a long and challenging day."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

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