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Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat Assists Two Yachts in A Day – One French and One German

10th June 2022

Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat was launched yesterday, Thursday 09 June, to assist a French yacht which had run aground at Ballyferris Point, in County Down.

The volunteer crew of Donaghadee Lifeboat were requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard yesterday at 11.56 am to reports of a 9-metre yacht which had run aground on rocks just off Ballyferris Point, roughly 6 miles South of Donaghadee.

The yacht, with a French lone sailor onboard was en route from Arklow to Bangor when he ran aground on rocks and used his VHF radio to contact the Coastguard for help.

The lifeboat made full speed in a moderate sea, fair visibility and with a fresh south-easterly wind were on scene at 12.24 pm. The crew assessed the situation and with the aid of a local rib passed a 150 metre towline to the yacht. A tow was attempted but due to a rapidly falling tide and the yacht being well stuck, but with no danger to the yacht or sailor, the decision was made for the lifeboat to return to Donaghadee and allow the tide to rise.

Saxon was relaunched again and back on scene at approximately 3 pm, where the tide had come in enough to allow the yacht to begin to float. Crew members launched the smaller daughter boat with Chris Stewart and David Cull aboard and re-attached a new towline. A fresh attempt was made to tow the yacht off the rocks again but was unsuccessful. Eventually, the yacht did float free itself and Chris Stewart boarded the yacht. An experienced sailor himself, Chris was able to sail the yacht and allow the gentleman to assess the damage, of which there didn’t appear to be anything major.

After discussion with the yachtsman, it was agreed that he would be towed to the safety of Bangor Marina where he could fully assess for damage before attempting to continue his journey toward Scotland and on to Norway.

The yacht was assisted with its berthing in Bangor Marina by the Bangor Coastguard Rescue team.

As the lifeboat was leaving Bangor Harbour at 5.53 pm to return to Donaghadee they were requested again by Belfast Coastguard to attend to a second yacht that needed assistance.

The 11-metre German yacht with a couple onboard was struggling to make headway through Donaghadee Sound. They were sailing toward Bangor and due to a strong tide, a drop in the wind and the loss of their main engine, they were not making any headway.

They contacted the Coastguard via their VHF radio and asked for assistance as they were beginning to suffer from exhaustion.

Saxon arrived on the scene to the yacht which was at the north end of Big Copeland Island, less than 10 minutes later and a crew member proceeded to pass a tow rope to the struggling vessel.

At this stage the conditions had improved slightly compared to earlier in the day, visibility was excellent and the sea state was slight.

After a 40-minute tow, the yacht and its tired crew were delivered to the safety of Bangor Marina and once again were assisted with berthing by four of the Coastguard Rescue Team.

The lifeboat and the crew returned to the station and made the boat ready for its next service.

Philip McNamara, Donaghadee Lifeboat Coxswain commented ‘A busy week for our crew members as we did in fact have three callouts this week and also had a visit from our Chief Executive. As always, I commend the crew as they are a credit to the station with their dedication and ability to turn up and get the boat to sea at the drop of a hat.

We would like to extend our gratitude to the owner of the local rib who assisted us with the French yacht, it is much appreciated.

Even the most experienced sailors can run into difficulty or suffer from fatigue, and it is a positive thing to recognise when you need assistance and ask for it as early as possible – so well done to both yacht owners in their professionalism. We do always recommend that before going to sea you have a working means of communicating with the Coastguard, carry lifejackets and safety equipment, lots of advice can be found on the RNLI website.’

Afloat.ie Team

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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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