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Seven members of Arklow RNLI have been honoured for their roles in a challenging and exhausting service, almost seven hours in duration, which saw a crew of three people, onboard a nine-metre yacht rescued. For his exceptional display of seamanship in the service, a Signed Letter of Thanks from the Chairman of the Institution was awarded to Arklow RNLI Coxswain Brendan Dillon. For their teamwork in challenging sea conditions and their part in completing a highly effective service, individual Chief Executive Commendations were awarded to 2nd Mechanic Eddie McElheron and volunteer crewmembers Austin Gaffney, Geoffrey Kearns, Trevor Conroy, Craig O’Reilly, Daniel Downey.

As Afloat reported, the rescue was carried out on 4 August 2020, 24 nautical miles east-southeast of Arklow. The 9-metre yacht, Infinite Jest was on passage from Newlyn, in England to Largs, in Scotland, and was experiencing very poor weather and rough sea conditions, with the crew of three people, suffering from exhaustion and seasickness. It was a demanding service, also involving a tow from the lifeboat, which lasted over three hours, in winds up to Force 8, with upwards of 5-metre swells, at night. The service itself lasted nearly seven hours.

On launching in Force 7 conditions, at 6.58 pm that evening, the Coxswain of Arklow lifeboat, Brendan Dillon, headed towards the last reported position of the yacht, Infinite Jest, immediately feeling the effect of the conditions as they left the shelter afforded by land. On receiving an updated position from the Coast Guard, he adjusted his course to cross the Arklow Bank, to intercept the yacht. In doing this, while operating in such challenging sea conditions, he enabled the lifeboat to significantly reduce their time to reach the casualty vessel.

On successfully crossing Arklow Bank, the lifeboat’s primary navigation system was non-operational, with only the secondary GPS fully functional. The Coxswain requested the Navigator, Trevor Conroy, to calculate their position using speed and direction. In Force eight winds and a five-metre swell, the Arklow lifeboat Ger Tigchelaar arrived on scene at 8.20pm, having successfully located the casualty vessel.

The yacht, which was sailing with only her jib set, was instructed to take up a course behind the lifeboat, to be escorted to Wicklow Harbour, as the nearest safe port. After an hour on this course the yacht’s skipper informed the lifeboat, by VHF Radio, that it was proving difficult to maintain their course under sail and they were making poor headway. The Coxswain then asked the skipper if they could take in their sail and use their engine to maintain their course, behind the lifeboat, until they were closer to land.

Arklow RNLI brings the distressed yacht alongside at Wicklow Harbour in August 2020 Photo: RNLI/Tommy DoverArklow RNLI brings the distressed yacht alongside at Wicklow Harbour in August 2020 Photo: RNLI/Tommy Dover

As darkness was falling, the lifeboat took the yacht under tow, as the crew were exhausted and suffering from seasickness. Three members of the Arklow Lifeboat crew, led by Austin Gaffney, passed a heaving line to the casualty vessel. In very challenging conditions, the tow was established with the lifeboat maintaining radio contact with the yacht every 15 minutes, providing technical guidance, encouraging the tired crew to hydrate, offering support and informing them of progress to safe harbour. Wicklow RNLI was also placed on standby to launch if required, with their shore crew ready to receive both vessels into Wicklow Harbour.

As the lifeboat neared the Harbour, the crew of the yacht informed them that due to crew exhaustion, they could not make the berth under their own power and would require further support. The Coxswain requested Eddie McElheron to board the yacht in full protective equipment to assist. The lifeboat arrived at Wicklow Harbour at 12.55 am with the Infinite Jest on an alongside tow.

In recognising Coxswain Brendan Dillon’s role in commanding the lifeboat during such a challenging rescue, RNLI Chair Stuart Popham said he ‘showed excellent leadership qualities and sound decision making under the pressure of knowing what a precarious situation the casualty was in, and the risks presented to his lifeboat and crew. Throughout, he led by example, extolling the core values of the RNLI in all his actions.’

In awarding the lifeboat crew for their actions on the service, Mr Popham added, ‘This was a demanding service. The sea conditions, towing at night and crew transfer all presented risk and challenges. The crew demonstrated courage and resilience throughout. The deck crew on the Lifeboat performed faultlessly, showing skill, teamwork and a high degree of professionalism.’

The presentations were made during Arklow RNLI’s sold-out fundraising event ‘Dan’s Hurry to the Curry, which was held at the Arklow Bay Hotel after an absence of a few years due to the pandemic. The awards were presented on the night by RNLI Trustee and Chair of the Irish Council, Mr John Killeen.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Following a two-year break, Arklow RNLI’s Hurry to the Curry fundraiser returns on Friday 27 January at the Arklow Bay Hotel from 8pm.

Also known as Dan’s Lifeboat Special, the event has gone from strength to strength and continues to be one of the most enjoyable and well supported nights out in the events calendar, the lifeboat station says.

Culinary masterpieces prepared by Anne and her team of volunteers range from hot curry dishes and a wonderful array of fresh sea food — prawns, lobster, crab, monkfish and salmon— to cold-meat platters, vegetarian dishes and salads of all kinds.

Advice is to come to the bash good and hungry: “It’s the best value meal you’ll have had since [the last] event and quite simply the best craic to be had on the east coast.”

There are spot prizes galore and some lovely raffle and auction items. Music will be provided by the Joe Dolan Experience followed by a DJ till late. There might even be some special guests.

Arklow RNLI’s crew are pulling out all the stops to ensure a magical night is had by all. Lifeboat press officer Mark Corcoran says: “Without volunteers like our fundraising team and our lifeboat crew who still to this day give of their own time, our lifeboat couldn’t function and continue to be rescue ready. We would love to see everybody at the Arklow Bay Hotel on Friday 27 January.”

Tickets are €20 and are available from the Arklow Bay Hotel and Arklow RNLI Fundraising committee members, or you can email [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Arklow RNLI launched on Sunday evening (11 September) to assist two people on 39ft yacht which had lost propulsion and was adrift off the Co Wexford town.

The volunteer crew made their way to the lifeboat station around 7pm and within minutes of the request were aboard the all-weather lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr and en route to the reported location.

Once afloat, the lifeboat travelled the half mile to the vessel at Arklow’s South Beach.

In wet conditions with light fading and southerly winds with wave heights of around two-and-a-half metres, the vessel had lost propulsion and tried to anchor as it drifted onto a lee shore some 50 yards from the beach.

Following an assessment by the lifeboat crew, it was decided to establish a tow to bring the vessel to safety.

A lifeboat volunteer boarded the casualty vessel to assist with rigging a tow. Once it was established, the casualty vessel was able to have its anchor hauled up and proceed with the tow back to the nearest safe port at Arklow.

Following the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Mark Corcoran said: “Our teams dedication and training for these scenarios really paid off this evening. Thankfully the crew on the sailing vessel had done all the right things which allowed us to get there and be able to assist.”

Arklow RNLI’s crew on this callout were coxswain Ned Dillon, John Bermingham, Eddie McElheron, Craig O’Reilly, Sinead Myler, Jimmy Myler and Dave Molloy.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arklow RNLI launched to the aid of five people on Wednesday evening (13 July) after their sailing vessel got into difficulty.

Volunteers were paged at 8.45pm after reports that a vessel had become entangled in fishing gear close to shore near the harbour in Arklow Bay.

The all-weather lifeboat launched shortly thereafter in calm seas with slack winds, quickly locating the casualty vessel with five people onboard.

Upon arrival, a lifeboat crew member was put aboard the vessel to assist with freeing the entanglement. Once this had been cleared, the yacht was towed back into Arklow Harbour where everybody came ashore safely.

Speaking later, Mark Corcoran, Arklow RNLI community safety officer said: “Our volunteers are always on call — huge thanks to them and their families for the amazing work they do in our community.”

The crew for this callout were coxswain Ned Dillon, Brendan Dillon, John Bermingham, Craig O’Reilly and Geoff Kearnes.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arklow RNLI launched yesterday morning (9 June) at around 6.30am to a request to assist two people on a fishing vessel which had lost propulsion north of the Co Wicklow town.

The volunteer crew made their way to the lifeboat station and within minutes of the request were aboard the all-weather lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr and en route to the reported location.

In a fresh southerly breeze with moderate seas, the lifeboat made its way to the reported position five miles north of Arklow. Once on scene, the casualty vessel was quickly located and it was confirmed that it had lost propulsion.

A tow line was established and the casualty vessel was towed back to the nearest safe port at Arklow, where all hands came ashore at approximately 8am.

Following the callout, Mark Corcoran, Arklow RNLI press officer said: “Thanks to our volunteer crew who at a moment’s notice go to sea to assist others. Please remember to respect the water.”

Arklow RNLI’s crew on this callout were coxswain Ned Dillon, John Tyrrell, Jimmy Myler, Sinead Myler, Craig O’Reilly and station mechanic James Russell.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arklow RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew were paged by the Irish Coast Guard on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon (4 June) following a report of person in the water.

The all-weather lifeboat, under coxswain Ned Dillon with crew Geoff Kearnes, James Russell, Craig O’Reilly, Austin Gaffney, Jimmy Myler and Eddie McElheron, launched shortly after 2.20pm and made their way to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time were described as good with a calm sea, light wind and good visibility.

Upon arrival at the nearby Roadstone jetty south of the Co Wicklow town, the lifeboat crew spotted two kayaks in the water, almost under the jetty.

One of the casualties had slipped from their kayak into the water and was not able to recover back onto the craft, while the second person had stayed on the kayak alongside the casualty but was unable to assist.

The casualty was recovered from the water to the lifeboat and once they were safely aboard, the second person was recovered along with both of the kayaks. The casualty was given first aid and was cold and fatigued but uninjured.

The lifeboat returned to station and both kayakers were given refreshments and warmed up before they left.

Speaking following the callout, Mark Corcoran, Arklow RNLI community safety officer said: “Thankfully we were able to assist these kayakers safely back to shore.

“Given the good weather there are a lot more people around and on the water, we would like to share the message that if you are going on or in the water: always carry a means of calling for help, always wear a lifejacket and other appropriate protection, always check the weather and tides before going to sea and please respect the water.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arklow RNLI came to the aid of two people yesterday (Monday 21 March) following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to assist a vessel which had lost propulsion.

Within minutes, the volunteer crew were aboard the all-weather lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr and en route to the reported location south of Arklow in fair seas with a light easterly breeze.

A crew transfer vessel from the local offshore wind farm also went to render assistance.

Once on scene, the casualty vessel with two people aboard was located, and it was confirmed that the vessel had suffered engine failure.

A tow line was set up and the casualty vessel was towed back to the nearest safe port at Arklow where all hands came ashore safely.

Following the callout, Mark Corcoran, volunteer lifeboat press officer at Arklow RNLI said: “Thanks once again to our volunteer crew who at a moment’s notice go to sea to assist others. Whether day or night, we would encourage people to please remember to respect the water.”

Arklow RNLI’s crew on this callout were coxswain Ned Dillon, James Russell, Jimmy Myler, Sinead Myler and Craig O’Reilly.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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It’s said that when the experimentally-minded William Petty, the compiler of the Down Survey in Ireland in the 1660s, decided to build his very innovative Simon & Jude catamaran in 1663 for testing in Dublin Bay, the decidedly odd vessel was actually constructed in Arklow. This meant the machine’s debut at Dublin – when she conspicuously outperformed a couple of notably high-performing craft – came as a complete surprise. But if she’d been built in Dublin, it would have become part of the fashionable social round in the city to go and observe the work in progress – an unwelcome distraction.

The success of the original Simon & Jude was replicated to everyone’s satisfaction in Dublin Bay by Hal Sisk in 1991 in a timely reminder that William Petty was a man of many parts. And there’s no doubt that he was also one very smart operator. His land surveys revealed that there was a very choice area in the far southwest of Ireland around a place known as Neidin – The Little Nest – which Petty promptly claimed as his own, and re-named it Kenmare after the Kenmare Bay, as it’s at the head of that inlet.

A model of the hugely-innovative catamaran Simon & Jude of 1663.A model of the hugely-innovative catamaran Simon & Jude of 1663.

But while he was at it, he re-named the inlet the Kenmare River. This meant that he now owned all the fishing rights the whole way down to the Atlantic, whereas if it had continued to be officially recorded as Kenmare Bay, he would only have owned the fisheries close along each shore. 

Originally it was called Kenmare Bay, but by ensuring that it was officially re-named (by himself) as the Kenmare River, William Petty secured excusive fisheries rights all the way to the AtlanticOriginally it was called Kenmare Bay, but by ensuring that it was officially re-named (by himself) as the Kenmare River, William Petty secured excusive fisheries rights all the way to the Atlantic

So the fact that he may have used Arklow to have his Simon & Jude built shows that even in the 1660s, when Arklow harbour was little more than the shallow and shifting sandy estuary of the Avoca River, the place already had a notable boat-building tradition that continues to capture the maritime imagination, and manifests itself in a complex spider’s web of weird associations today.

Thus when marine historian and record-keeper Ian Whittaker in Scotland enquired the other day in search of photos and images of some Tyrrell built-boats including the 1954-built 31ft Bermudan sloop Sinloo of Arklow and the 1935-built 35ft gaff yawl Failte II, it sent the linkup wheels spinning.

The attractively robust Jack Tyrrell-designed and built yawl Failte II of 1935. She was last reported in France some years ago under the name of TideripThe attractively robust Jack Tyrrell-designed and built yawl Failte II of 1935. She was last reported in France some years ago under the name of Tiderip

For Sinloo is currently a restoration project of which we hope to carry a more detailed update shortly, while Failte II – an attractively robust vessel built for that noted muscular Christian the Reverend Vandelaur (Kilrush links of course) - was last reported in France under the name of Tiderip.

But once you let connections start to take over, you’re trapped. For although Sinloo was built for the Horsman family of County Wicklow, by the 1960s she was owned by Professor John Kinmonth, and in a cruise of southwest Ireland in 1966, he mentions in his log that between Union Hall and Knightstown, the crew included his schoolboy son Fred.

Sinloo of Arklow, designed & built by Jack Tyrell in 1953-54, is currently under restorationSinloo of Arklow, designed & built by Jack Tyrell in 1953-54, is currently under restoration

That same Fred Kinmonth is now a corporate lawyer in Hong Kong, where he has been noted as the campaigner of some very hot offshore racers called Mandrake. But he has maintained his links to West Cork, and it is he who has commissioned the building of a replica of Conor O’Brien’s world-girdling Saoirse, which - all being well - will be launched by Liam Hegarty and his team from Oldcourt Boatyard for her build Centenary this year.

Jack Tyrrell’s profile plan of the 1954 Arklow-built SinlooJack Tyrrell’s profile plan of the 1954 Arklow-built Sinloo

And just to close the circle in the meantime, when Conor O’Brien was pressed for the inspiration for the archaic yet effective shape of his design for Saoirse’s hull, he said that it was partially based on a noted fishing ketch of the 1860s which had taken his fancy. That ketch was of course a creation of Tyrrell of Arklow.

Conor O’Brien’s Saoirse – while largely based on his own ideas, he did admit that he drew some inspiraton from the lines of a renowned Arklow fishing ketch of the 1860sConor O’Brien’s Saoirse – while largely based on his own ideas, he did admit that he drew some inspiraton from the lines of a renowned Arklow fishing ketch of the 1860s

Published in Boatyards
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Members of Courtown/Arklow Coast Guard were recently presented with medals of tenure, as the Gorey Guardian reports.

And chief among them was Benjamin Murphy, who was recognised for his 40 years’ service prior to his recent retirement.

“Pulling off 40 years of service is nearly impossible to do and it’s a massive achievement as a volunteer,” David Swinburne of Courtown/Arklow Coast Guard said.

The Gorey Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

Arklow RNLI launched swiftly on Sunday (1 August) to assist a support vessel that lost propulsion during a sailing regatta off the Co Wicklow town.

Most of the volunteer crew were already close to the station when they received the request to launch just after 11am, and the all-weather lifeboat Ger Tighclearr was soon under way with coxswain Ned Dillon at the helm.

Once on scene, about a quarter-mile north-east of the Arklow Harbour entrance, it was established that the 10.5ft motor cruiser with two crew aboard had become entangled in fishing gear.

An RNLI volunteer went aboard the cruiser to assist but after efforts to clear the props failed, it was decided to tow the vessel — which had been acting as a support boat as part of the local Sailing Regatta — back into the safety of the harbour.

Following the callout, Arklow RNLI’s community safety officer Mark Corcoran said: “Thankfully we had a positive result this morning. This callout shows that anybody can become entangled in fishing gear; indeed I have myself as have other members of our own crew.

“I’m delighted the time and effort we spend on delivery of our community safety plan and our interactions with all of the groups and clubs who use the harbours and river keep the water safety message to the fore in people’s minds.”

The crew alongside Dillon on this callout were station mechanic James Russell, Craig O’Reilly, Geoff Kearnes, Eddie McElheron and Jimmy Myler.

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.

© Afloat 2020