Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Courtmacsherry Lifeboat Launches to Surfer in Difficulty Off Garrylucas Beach

5th September 2022
Courtmacsherry RNLI’s volunteer crew on the callout on Monday morning 5 September
Courtmacsherry RNLI’s volunteer crew on Monday morning’s callout Credit: RNLI/Courtmacsherry

Courtmacsherry RNLI’s volunteers were called out at 11.33am this morning (Monday 5 September) to go to the immediate aid of a surfer in difficulty amid strong winds off Garrylucas Beach.

Under coxswain Mark Gannon and a crew of six, the all-weather lifeboat was quickly under way and proceeded in very rough seas towards the coastline off Garrylucas.

The 999 call had been made by the partner of the person in trouble as she saw that he had lost control in windy conditions and was in immediate danger.

The Old Head/Seven Heads Coast Guard unit was also tasked and maintained cover on the shoreline and the nearby rocks.

Just after 11.55am the lifeboat arrived off Garrylucas and found that the surfer had managed to swim to the safety of rocks between Garrylucas and Garretstown Strand and reach the shore in very poor and gusty conditions.

The casualty was met and assessed on the shoreline by members of the Old Head/Seven Heads Coast Guard team. Once it was confirmed there was nobody else in trouble, the lifeboat was stood down and returned to base.

Conditions at sea today off West Cork were extremely difficult, with a very strong southeast Force 7-8 blowing and a huge sea swell.

Speaking following the callout, Courtmacsherry’s lifeboat press officer Vincent O’Donovan said: “It was great to see 15 crew members assemble quickly on a Monday morning to help others in danger on the sea which was raging today.

“This is our 21st callout in what has been a very busy year so far for our station in Courtmacsherry.”

The crew on board the lifeboat this morning were coxswain Mark Gannon, mechanic Stuart Russell, Dave Philips, Tadgh McCarthy, Enda Boyle, Evin O’Sullivan and Conor Tyndall. 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.


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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