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Lough Derg Lifeboat Launches Twice to Vessels With Engine Troubles During Thunderstorm

24th July 2021
The inshore RNLI lifeboat Jean Spicer on Lough Derg as a thunderstorm looms overhead on Friday 23 July
The inshore RNLI lifeboat Jean Spicer on Lough Derg as a thunderstorm looms overhead on Friday 23 July Credit: RNLI/Lough Derg

Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers were called out twice yesterday afternoon (Friday 23 July) to assist two separate cruisers with engine issues as a thunderstorm brewed.

At 3pm the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Keith Brennan, Steve Smyth and Joe O’Donoghue to assist two people on a 26ft cruiser with engine failure southwest of Illaunmore.

The lake was developing a moderate chop as a thunderstorm gathered force directly above and the wind quickly strengthened from Force 2 to 4 as the lifeboat arrived at the casualty vessel with minutes of launch.

Both people on board were found to be safe and well and wearing their lifejackets. One of the lifeboat crew boarded the cruiser to assess the situation but could not determine a cause for the engine failure.

Given the deteriorating weather conditions, with frequent forked lightning, the RNLI helm decided the safest course of action was to take the cruiser and its passengers to the closest safe harbour at Dromaan.

The crew set up an alongside tow, with a volunteer remaining on the casualty boat, while and the helm warned everyone not to hold on to any metal fittings on either boat in case of a lightning strike. The casualty vessel was safely tied in Dromaan Harbour before 3.45pm.

Less than half an hour later, the lifeboat crew had just completed a wash-down and refuelling at the station when they were called again, this time to a 38ft cruiser with four on board that had engine failure northwest of Illaunmore.

At 4.15pm the lifeboat launched to the reported location at navigation mark D where there were five cruisers in the vicinity, none of which matched the casualty vessel’s description. Valentia Coast Guard then confirmed to the lifeboat crew that the vessel has regained power and was making way north at 20 knots, and the lifeboat was stood down.

Liam Maloney, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI, advises water users to “check the weather forecast for inland lakes and let others know when you anticipate arriving at your destination”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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