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For many Afloat.ie readers, he was just a silhouetted figure sitting atop a boat waiting to be rescued when Afloat.ie published the story about a solo sailor's rescue off the Wexford coast. Like so many rescue video clips, there was little detail on what had caused the boat to capsize but French skipper Jean Conchaudron's subsequent thank you comment on Afloat.ie to the Irish rescue services shed a lot more light on his remarkable rescue from the Irish Sea.

Conchaudron was voyaging from Newlin, Cornwall to Dublin. His goal was to meet a friend who was coming to Dublin from Iceland. After a few days holidaying in Dublin they would come back with the two boats to Brittany (Perros Guirec).

mini 6.50 Jean conchaudron Jean Conchaudron's Mini 6.50 in happier times

But as we now know, none of this ever happened. As a result of 'mechanical failure' Conchaudron's keel fell off and he was capsized in seconds.

'Conditions were quite good, I was on deck, wind was about 15 knots, some swell. The boat capsized in about five seconds'.

'I had my PLB in my trousers, and my life jacket on. I triggered the PLB I have in my pocket. It then took to me about half an hour to be able to make a web of ropes to climb on to the hull, I was pushed up and down by the waves, and it took me a while to secure myself with the rope (the web of rope can be seen on the video). It was not possible to start my boat beacon because it was in the cabin and not accessible.

'I then waited to be rescued. The Rescue 117 Helicopter from Waterford saved me and I spent four days in Waterford Regional Hospital due to hypothermia. Thanks to the Irish recsue services, these guys are heroes'.

Conchaudron says he loves Mini 6.50 type sailing and prefers sailing alone. Despite what happened off Wexford, he believes his boat is 'very safe' and well equipped, as are all the boats of this class with a radio beacon and other safety measures. He participated in the "Mini Transat" in 1987, and other races in France. 

lifejacket Rescue 117Jean Conchaudron's all important lifejacket signed by his rescuers

As far as he knows, the boat is still adrift in the Irish Sea. Conchaudron says the Coastguard is 'keeping an eye on it.' It is his intention to try to get it back, depending on what his insurers say.

'I hope this experience will help other sailors', he wrote on the Rescue 117 Facebook page.

Conchaudron says he has learned an important lesson from the experience and wants to pass it on to other sailors in the hope that it can save other lives at sea: 'Have a PLB in your trousers's pocket, wear your life–jacket, stay afloat, don't sleep and be a warrior to survive'.

Published in Solo Sailing

Ballycotton RNLI lifeboat was launched at 12:10 today for a pleasure craft in the Ballycotton Bay area of East Cork.

No contact had been made with the lone sailor for over an hour and his concerned family contacted the Coast Guard.

Sea conditions in the area was choppy at the time, with the wind blowing North East force 6/7.

The Ballycotton RNLI lifeboat, Austin Lidbury, were requested to launch, as were the Ballycotton Coast Guard unit and the Waterford based Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 117.

The pleasure craft returned safely to shore under its own power shortly afterwards and the emergency units were stood down.

Related Safety posts

RNLI Lifeboats in Ireland


Safety News


Rescue News from RNLI Lifeboats in Ireland


Coast Guard News from Ireland


Water Safety News from Ireland

Marine Casualty Investigation Board News

Marine Warnings

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

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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