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Donaghadee Lifeboat Rescues Kayaker Off Cloughey Beach on Father’s Day

20th June 2022
Donaghadee RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Saxon
File image of Donaghadee RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Saxon Credit: RNLI/Margaret Ramm

Donaghadee RNLI’s volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat yesterday (Sunday 19 June) to reports of a kayaker who appeared to be struggling against the tide in strong offshore winds just off Cloughey Beach on Northern Ireland’s Ards Peninsula.

Pages sounded at 2.17pm and a crew of six under the command of coxswain Philip McNamara launched Saxon into a moderate to rough sea, with a Force 6-7 northwesterly wind and excellent visibility.

While the crew were making full speed to the last reported position of the kayaker, Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team — who were already on scene — kept eyes on the paddler some 2km north of the North Rock.

It transpired that the casualty had initially been out in a blue kayak and had got into difficulties. He managed to swim ashore and proceeded to go out in a yellow kayak in order to recovery the blue one. With a strong offshore wind and unable to locate the blue kayak, he attempted to return to shore and began to struggle.

At around 2.55pm, HM Coastguard also tasked a search and rescue helicopter which was en route from Prestwick. In the meantime the Portaferry coastguard team were able to report that the casualty had drifted to 1km north of the North Rock.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene, the crew quickly located the casualty sheltering on the North Rock itself. Due to shallow conditions and the sea state beyond the capability of the lifeboat’s daughter boat, second coxswain John Ashwood used a loudhailer to request the kayaker make his way off the rock and toward Saxon. He was able to do this and he was recovered onto the safety of the lifeboat. Subsequently, the search and rescue helicopter was stood down.

Once onboard, a casualty care assessment was carried out to ensure the kayaker was not suffering any ill effects from the situation and it was determined that he was well. Shortly after he was returned to shore at Portavogie Harbour where he was reunited with his son and handed over to the care of the Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team.

Brian McLawrence, Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “There was great teamwork today between the coastguard rescue team and ourselves; a pleasure to work with them as always.

“Time is of the essence in these situations. We would advise that as soon as you suspect that you or a loved one is in trouble, waste no time, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

McLawrence added: “The man was lucky to get to the relative safety of the North Rock itself. We wish him all the best and hope he enjoyed the remainder of his Father’s Day.

“We do recommend if you are going to enjoy the water on a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard that you wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, and carry a means of communication such as a VHF radio or your mobile phone in a waterproof case – it could save your life.”

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas one of the station’s most avid supporters, six-year-old Quinn Whyte, and Donaghadee RNLI volunteers at the lifeboat station’s open day on Saturday 18 June | Credit: RNLI/Margaret RammMayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas one of the station’s most avid supporters, six-year-old Quinn Whyte, and Donaghadee RNLI volunteers at the lifeboat station’s open day on Saturday 18 June | Credit: RNLI/Margaret Ramm

The previous day, Donaghadee RNLI held its annual lifeboat open day which gave the general public have access to the all-weather lifeboat Saxon, where they were greeted by volunteer crew members and given a tour of the boat.

There were record numbers queuing right around the lighthouse for the whole day. The harbour itself was busy with stalls, games and food outlets and the lifeboat shop reported a roaring trade all day.

The lifeboat station was also open and welcomed many visitors throughout the day, with tea and coffee, sandwiches and buns, all supplied by volunteer crew members, partners and family.

Visitors throughout the day included Mayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas who joined in the morning for a tour of the station and lifeboat.

She was joined by one of the station’s most avid supporters, six-year-old Quinn Whyte. Quinn is passionate about the RNLI and lifeboats; he visits them all over the country and has his bedroom decorated in lifeboat memorabilia.

He started to support Donaghadee RNLI’s ‘Betty’s 5p Pots’ campaign earlier in the year, whereby you fill a small jam jar with 5ps and donate them at the lifeboat shop. So far this year he has collected a massive 87 pots — with each one holding around £2.25, that’s quite the achievement.

Mayor Douglas with Quinn at the helm of the all-weather lifeboat Saxon | Credit: RNLI/Margaret RammMayor Douglas with Quinn at the helm of the all-weather lifeboat Saxon | Credit: RNLI/Margaret Ramm

The volunteer team were delighted to Quinn him around the station and the lifeboat as a treat, and fully expect to see him joining the crew in the future.

The station also had a visit from Helen Winter and her son Patrick who made a very generous donation in memory of Helen’s late husband Harold Winter, who was a passionate fundraiser for the RNLI during his lifetime. Patrick himself is an avid sailor and fully appreciates the requirement for and the service of the RNLI.

The day finished with a display by the lifeboat and crew, and volunteer Rebecca McCarthy used her stand-up paddleboard to paddle into the harbour and demonstrate how to attract attention if you are in difficulty as well as the importance of carrying a flare and a means of communication.

The lifeboat came alongside Rebecca and another crew member, Nicola Butler, jumped into the water in full lifeboat PPE to demonstrate the use of the A frame, which is required to get casualties out of the water. Everyone watching appeared to enjoy the display and congratulated the crew with a warm round of applause.

Evelyn Bennett, chair of the Donaghadee fundraising team said: “Everyone at our station, crew and fundraisers, are over the moon at how our open day went, especially given that this was our first since 2019.

“The support we get from the public is what enables our volunteer crew to go to sea and save lives. We rely on donations and legacies and we are delighted to say that this year’s lifeboat day has raised in excess of £2,400 with some monies still to come in. This sum is takings from the entry to the lifeboat, stallholders and the collection buckets on the day.

“Our lifeboat shop and stall on the harbour was certainly kept busy raising in excess of £1,100 — a truly successful and thoroughly enjoyable day all round. We cannot thank the everyone enough for coming along and enjoying the day with us and look forward to next year!”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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.

© Afloat 2020

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