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RNLI Lifeboat News From Ireland

#RNLI - Portaferry RNLI’s volunteer crew were paged yesterday afternoon (Saturday 11 August) to go to the aid of two people stranded on Guns Island off Co Down.

The lifeboat launched at 3:20pm in overcast weather with good visibility and a Force 4 south-easterly wind but a rough sea state, and on arrival on scene 20 minutes later it was raining with poor visibility.

Newcastle, Bangor and Portaferry coastguard rescue teams were also in attendance, assisting from the shore.

The RNLI crew approached the scene where they rescued the two people and their dog from the island, where they were stranded after their six-metre punt got into difficultly and was destroyed on nearby rocks.

The casualties were taken to Ballyhornan Beach where they were transferred to the care of the coastguard rescue teams on shore.

Elsewhere, Clifden RNLI added to their busy August with a callout to a yacht with engine trouble both of Slyne Head on Friday afternoon (10 August).

A light Force 2 north-westerly wind made the yacht’s passage to Clifden slow going under sail alone. The Clifden lifeboat crew established a tow to Clifden Bay, which took over an hour, and the D-class lifeboat aided in mooring the yacht.

“Once on the mooring, a rope could be observed caught underneath the yachts hull and an attempt was made to release it. This proved unsuccessful but explained how the yacht had lost mechanical propulsion,” said Clifden RNLI coxswain David Barry.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Why would anyone ignore an offer of a free system that can make sailing, boating, kayaking, canoeing and other water-based activities safer?

I don’t know the answer to that, but maybe there is some reader of Afloat.ie who will tell me why.

I was quite surprised when the man who has led the development of a system which, it is claimed, “fills a critical gap in maritime situational awareness,” is less used in Ireland than anywhere else in the world!

There are more than 170,000 users around the world of a maritime safety and rescue tracking device which has been developed and produced by a Cork technology company. It is in use in Finland, Germany, Holland, Spain, South Africa, Australia, Norway, Cyprus, the United Kingdom and Denmark. Sweden is the latest country that has decided to introduce the Cork-developed system.

JOHN MURPHY SAFE TRXJohn Murphy of SafeTrx

SafeTrx is a vessel tracking Smartphone application, Irish-developed and, while it is used in Ireland, John Murphy, CEO of 8 West Consulting, developers of the award-winning SafeTrx Mariner Smartphone-based tracking and alerting system, says he “would consider use low in Ireland in comparison to other countries.”

Overseas countries have run public information/education campaigns about water safety, built around SafeTrx. “They have taken to heart what we have developed,”
he said.

"In an emergency situation it gives rescue authorities quick access to information about the location"

Though the Irish Sailing Association has urged its use here, it is not used as much as overseas. That surprised me when I interviewed John Murphy for my radio programme, This Island Nation. The system has recorded 750,000 hours of use and is sold to national search-and-rescue authorities, so the leisure boat user has no cost to use it.

In an emergency situation it gives rescue authorities quick access to information about the location.

So why is usage low in Ireland?

“Perhaps it is an issue about privacy or confidentiality or not wanting to bother the authorities. That is not prevalent in other countries. In Holland the take-up went from zero to 10,000 registered users in one week. There’s a different psychology, a different acceptance of risk and what people need to do to support themselves in those countries than there is in Ireland,” John Murphy said.

• Listen to the Podcast below of my interview here with John Murphy, a diver and a mountaineer who began developing SafeTrx after discussing with the Irish Coast Guard the need for a safety system for leisure sailors, inshore fishermen, kayakers, canoeists and other leisure water users, to create an ability for the rescue services to track their trips.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

I wonder if the example of what FINTAN has done in Britain could be followed in Ireland?

It is an innovative approach to adding to rescue knowledge.

The UK Ordnance Survey and the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have a database called FINTAN, which they describe as helping to create a “vernacular geography” of names known by local people but which have not been listed officially by State organisations.

After five years of work it has built up 6.000 place names known and used by local people, but not until now listed officially. The purpose is that they could be used, if needed, in emergency operations. which could be used both for emergency calls to the Coastguard and to land-based 999 emergency services.

According to the MCA, in emergencies callers can often use nicknames for beaches, rocks and other local areas, for which the names on official maps are different or mightn’t even exist, making the identification of incident locations difficult, so the initiative has been used to close off such loopholes in safety coverage

Some unusual names are listed in FINTAN’S database, including Crazy Mary’s Hole, Nuncle Dicks, Sausage Island and Stinky Bay.

Whatever about the last three of those names, I wouldn’t like to be calling for help and giving the first name as my location to the emergency services! Listen to the podcast below:

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD, says a significant number of Irish Coast Guard call-outs in recent years have been to assist recreational craft.

The Minister's comments were made as a new Code of Practice was launched for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft that draws on stats over ten years to 2015.

Reports of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board have also indicated that many accidents and deaths in this sector could have been avoided. The key is to think and act safely, the Minister says. 

The following extracts from the 2015 Annual Report of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board provide information regarding marine casualties involving recreational craft in the period 2006-2015. The table and chart below give a breakdown of the fatalities by type of craft during the 10 year period up to and including 2015.

Fatalities associated with open boats and canoes have occurred on a regular basis during this period.

Rec craft stats 2Source: MCIB

Published in Rescue

Donegal based startup, DroneSAR Ltd has won the European Commission prize announced last night (7 November 2017) in Tallinn, Estonia at the awards ceremony for the 14th European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) winners. DroneSAR Ltd were awarded this prize for the development of software which transforms standard “off-the-shelf” drone and mobile device pairings into enhanced search and rescue (SAR) data transmission technology that will save lives.

The European Commission Prize - the Copernicus Masters Services Challenge - is one of a range of challenges and prizes on offer to the 321 finalists in the ESNC competition. It is awarded for innovative uses of the European Commission operated Copernicus program products. The Copernicus program is a European Union Programme aimed at developing European information services based on satellite Earth Observation data and implemented in partnership with Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA) and a number of other European organisations.

DroneSAR Ltd were presented with a cheque from the European Commission, which is in addition to their award as Ireland Region Winner. The Ireland Region Competition for the annual ESNC awards has been organised and sponsored by National Space Centre Ltd since 2012.

DroneSAR Ltd is the brainchild of it’s four co-founders who each possess expertise and skill-sets specific to the world of drone technology, network and satellite communication and SAR coordination and emergency response.

CEO Oisin McGrath said “DroneSAR makes it possible to use affordable, “off-the-shelf” drone technology to expedite successful outcomes during emergency response incidents. It delivers the right data to the right people at the right time when agencies are faced with time and resource constraints. We are delighted to have won this award from the European Commission.

Each member of the DroneSAR team has contributed to realise a software product that will play a major part in ensuring that emergency response time-frames, incident coordination, decisions and successful outcomes will be realised across all sectors of the emergency response and humanitarian relief environment.”

To deliver the service, DroneSAR Ltd has partnered with leading outdoor pursuit software providers Viewranger, global maritime distress software company SafeTRX and medical distress location software, Medimee, all of which will allow victim position data to be sent to DroneSAR software for automatic flight to the location.

Rory Fitzpatrick, CEO National Space Centre said “This is worthy recognition for an outstanding product that has both commercial and lifesaving potential. We are incredibly proud to see this young Irish company perform so strongly on the international stage.”

National Space Centre Ltd is based at Elfordstown Earthstation, Midleton and delivers uplink and downlink services to domestic and international teleport and satellite communications markets.

Published in Rescue

#Coastguard - The Irish Coast Guard crew winching two teenagers from the sea when one fell from her harness had never lifted two casualties at the same time before, as BreakingNews.ie reports.

Aoife Winterlich, 14, was one of four teenagers who had been swept into the sea off Hook Head during an outing for venture scouts on 6 December 2015.

Two managed to swim ashore but Winterlich got into difficulty in heavy seas. The fourth, a 15-year-old boy, attempted to keep her afloat until rescue arrived minutes later.

It was when Rescue 117’s crew attempted to transfer the pair into the helicopter that Winterlich slipped from her strop some 45 feet back into the water.

Records show that the winchman was back in the water to retrieve Winterlich within moments, and that she was in the helicopter just over a minute after.

The inquest into Winterlich’s death this week heard that she died from lack of oxygen to the brain resulting from near drowning, and that there was no evidence of contributing physical trauma.

Prof Maureen O’Sullivan of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, who conducted the post-mortem, said the fall was unlikely to have contributed to Winterlich’s death, according to RTÉ News.

The inquest also heard that the coastguard helicopter’s winchman and winch operator had never performed a lift of more than one casualty in a single lift.

Winch operator Neville Murphy told Dublin Coroner’s Court the situation that led his college Sean Jennings to descend with two winch strops was “unprecedented”.

“Two people in the water, that generally doesn’t happen,” he said. “We can only train to certain limits. We can never know what we are faced with as we look out the door of the aircraft.”

Earlier this year, the Air Accident Investigation Unit report into the incident concluded there was “nothing to suggest that the winchman’s decision-making was anything other than sound”.

The inquest is adjourned till October. BreakingNews.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#Navy - A Naval Service seaman has expressed his gratitude to the Spanish coastguard for saving his life, after he fell ill while on humanitarian duty in the Mediterranean.

According to the Irish Examiner, Craig Clear was airlifted to Almeira from the deck of the LÉ William Butler Yeats on Tuesday (18 July) after suffering a collapsed lung and severed arteries.

But after two successful surgeries, the Co Laois man is in recovery — and on Wednesday he took to social media to share his gratitude to the helicopter rescue team from the Salvamento Maritimo.

The LÉ William Butler Yeats arrived in the Mediterranean on Monday (17 July) to take over from the returning LÉ Eithne, which is due in Cork Harbour today, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Navy

#Coastguard - Three people are “extremely lucky to be alive” after their boat upturned on the River Boyne last night (Monday 17 April), as TheJournal.ie reports.

The three casualties rescued east of Mornington, Co Meath were found to be not wearing lifejackets when they were rescued by volunteers from Drogheda Coast Guard.

Clogherhead RNLI also attended the incident, which occurred east of Drogheda Port, after a member of the public raised the alarm around 9.30pm.

“Only for the quick thinking of the caller and the rapid response from all agencies involved were we able to bring this incident to a successful conclusion,” said an Irish Coast Guard statement.

Elsewhere, DublinLive reports on Howth Coast Guard’s rescue of two kayakers stranded at Ireland’s Eye on Saturday afternoon (15 April).

The coastguard volunteers were on exercise when by chance they happened upon the kayaking duo, who had set out with no means to call for help.

Published in Coastguard

#RNLI - Following yesterday’s hoax calls, Bangor RNLI’s lifeboat volunteers rescued a man clinging to a capsized dinghy in Ballyholme Bay this afternoon (Monday 3 April).

The casualty, a 26-year old man, had quickly got into difficulty and capsized after launching from the Belfast Lough beach in a strong offshore wind gusting up to 30 knots.

This was seen by a member of the public who called 999, and CGOC Belfast Coastguard requested Bangor RNLI to respond.

Arriving on scene within minutes, the crew were delighted to see that the man had stayed with his boat and not tried to make it to shore. They were also happy to report that he was wearing appropriate safety gear: a wetsuit with a buoyancy aid.

After taking the casualty on board and assessing that he was uninjured, they returned him and his boat to the beach where the coastguard were waiting to assist.

Bangor lifeboat helm James Gillespie said: “This man clearly made the wrong decision to attempt to sail in a new boat in such conditions, but by wearing appropriate wet weather gear and staying with his boat he made our rescue much easier.

“The body tires quickly is cold water and he made the right decision to stay with his boat, knowing that his plight had been seen from the shore.”

Bangor RNLI’s deputy launching authority, Bryan Lawther added: “We are delighted to have been to help this man and bring him to safety. He has been advised to further his sailing knowledge with the assistance of a yacht club where rescue services are always on hand for learners.

“After yesterday’s hoax calls, this rescue highlights the importance of our service and our willingness to attend any genuine call.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Rescue - The Irish Times reports on the rescue of eight divers off the Sligo coast after a boat capsized this morning (Sunday 19 March).

Sligo Bay RNLI were tasked to the scene off Aughris Pier in Sligo town after the incident during a diving excursion, rescuing seven from a heavy swell.

An eighth person was subsequently recovered from the water and airlifted to Sligo Hospital by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118, which was diverted from the ongoing search for the missing crew of Rescue 116.

Independent.ie reports that the latter diver was in serious condition, and that a second diver was later hospitalised.

Published in Rescue
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