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Displaying items by tag: Lifeboats

The community lifesaving team at Bundoran RNLI well remember Christmas back in 1998, when two surfers were rescued off the coast of Tullaghan, Co Leitrim.

The rescue was acknowledged by the RNLI with a written letter of commendation from the charity’s then chief of operations.

On 28 December 1998, a surfer raised the alarm that two others could not get ashore. Helm Daimon Fergus takes up the story:

“Tony McGowan, our lifeboat operations manager, contacted the Irish Coast Guard in Malin Head and had our volunteer crew paged. Tony Cummins was at the helm along with Damien McNamara and myself.

“Our lifeboat, an Atlantic 75, was launched and underway within seven minutes. There was a south easterly Force 5 offshore wind and a swell of 22ft at the time.

“The main challenge was the swell which was breaking over the breakwater and into the channel from the boathouse. I remember Tony had to time the swells and judge the right moment to clear the channel.”

Once clear, the lifeboat ran before a quartering sea and reached the casualties at 4.22pm.

“We had been guided to the exact location by a shore party sent from the lifeboat station,” Daimon says. “We swiftly managed to recover the two casualties and one surf board just to the north of the surf line.

“As we came back and approached the station, Tony once again had to time our return carefully because of the breaking swells in the approach channel. I won’t forget the fact that the first surfer squeezed my hand so tight that he bent the thick silver ring on my right hand into my finger and the ring had to be cut off when we got back to the station.”

In commending the crew, the RNLI’s letter to the station read: “Although this service was short in duration, all those involved are to be commended for the alacrity of the launch, the contribution of the shore party, as well as the seamanship exhibited by Tony Cummins.”

One of the rescued surfers was Mark Ponsonby from Letterkenny, who says he will be eternally grateful for the speedy launch of the lifeboat that day.

“It’s been over 20 years now since my brother and myself were rescued by the RNLI in the sea at Bundoran. I often wonder what would have happened to us or become of us if it wasn’t for the timely interaction and rescue by the RNLI services that day.

“In a matter of minutes, they had answered the emergency call and had launched the boat. The Irish Coast Guard helicopter was also tasked to come to our aid.

“The conditions we found ourselves in were extreme and treacherous and the timing was critical for that rescue as the light was fading fast, yet the RNLI volunteers didn’t hesitate to get to us as fast as possible. My family will forever be grateful to the RNLI on that day and will never forget what they did for my brother and me that day.”

Now, as the current volunteer lifeboat crew prepare for Christmas 2019, they too will be ready and willing to respond should their pagers go off.

For Daimon, who has been a volunteer for 25 years, Christmas is no different to any other time of year: “We’ll still be on call ready to save lives and delay our own Christmas celebrations. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the public.

“The RNLI has experienced a shortfall in funds, but we are rescuing more people than ever before. We are facing the Perfect Storm and are calling on people to make a donation this Christmas to ensure we can continue saving lives at sea.”

To support the RNLI’s Perfect Storm appeal this Christmas, helping to ensure the charity’s brave volunteers can continue saving lives at sea, visit RNLI.org/ThePerfectStorm

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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It was a busy weekend for Oban RNLI in Western Scotland, with its lifeboat Mora Edith MacDonald responding to two separate incidents, covering over 120 miles.

The first call came Saturday afternoon (7 December) as the lifeboat launched in gale force winds and high seas, alongside the Islay RNLI lifeboat, to assist a 28m vessel that had lost steering in the Sound of Jura, just north of the MacCormaig Islands.

Islay were first to arrive on scene and it was established that the casualty vessel was able to make way using its emergency steering. Oban lifeboat was requested to rendezvous with the Islay volunteers and the casualty vessel to take over the escort.

Having battled high seas and poor visibility, the Oban crew arrived on scene shortly after 6pm.

While the casualty vessel was able to make way under its own power, the decision was made to continue escorting it to the safety of Craobh Haven Marina.

Given the weather conditions, with wind speeds of up to 50mph and the size of the vessel, it was decided that the Islay lifeboat should also remain on scene. The vessel made a steady speed north towards Craobh accompanied by both lifeboats.

On arrival at 8.15pm, the Oban lifeboat used its searchlights to illuminate the entrance in driving rain, giving the casualty vessel enough visibility to manoeuvre into the marina.

After several attempts at berthing in extremely challenging conditions, the vessel made it alongside with assistance from the Oban crew and, with the help of Craobh Haven Marina’s staff, the vessel was safely tied alongside by 9pm.

The second call came yesterday afternoon (Sunday 8 December) when the volunteer crew launched at 3pm to a report of a yacht adrift off Corpach.

The lifeboat made best speed in the conditions, arriving on scene by 4.30pm. Two crew members were put on board the yacht to determine whether anyone was on board.

With nothing found, it was decided a line would be put ashore to a nearby pier to ensure it didn’t drift further. The Fort William Coastguard Team were also on scene to take lines ashore and secure the vessel.

Published in Scottish Waters
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RTÉ’s Fergal Keane will be at Baltimore Sailing Club next Saturday 7 December for the launch of a new book celebrating 100 years of the West Cork village’s RNLI lifeboat service.

Baltimore Lifeboat: A Community Story by Éamon Lankford is now available, priced €16, with all proceeds going to Baltimore RNLI.

Seascapes presenter Keane will be in attendance to host the official launch from 8pm next Saturday, and all are welcome to attend — while the author will be signing copies earlier that afternoon from 3pm to 4pm at Hickey’s newsagents in Skibbereen.

For details on how to get a copy of the book, contact [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Volunteers at Oban and Tobermory’s RNLI lifeboat stations in eastern Scotland have been recognised for their invaluable service in this year’s Excellence in Volunteering Awards.

Oban’s four deputy coxswains — Mark Scott, Finlo Cottier, David Isaac and James Hardie — have all been recognised by the RNLI for their dedication to the station.

The certificates awarded by the RNLI’s chairman and council recorded their “sincere thanks” for “giving time to help provide full time coxswain cover at the station” and for their “commitment and leadership”.

In addition, the Argyll station’s press officers Iain Fulton and Leonie Mead also received awards for their “invaluable support to Oban Lifeboat Station”.

Meanwhile, Tobermory Lifeboat Station — nearby, on the Isle of Mull — received an Excellence in Volunteering Award earlier in the autumn following an operational evaluation carried out by an independent RNLI team of assessors.

The award recognised the crew’s “invaluable service to the institution” and that “with a committed management team and crew fully engaged in all aspects of the station, your focused team efforts, camaraderie and professionalism are greatly appreciated”.

Tobermory lifeboat operations manager Dr Sam Jones also received an award in recognition of her “invaluable service” to the station, of her “outstanding contribution” and for “making a positive impact at the station, engaging the crew and providing safe and effective leadership”.

Full-time coxswain David McHaffie and mechanic Paul Gunn have also received staff awards in recognition of their leadership and dedication at the station.

The RNLI’s prestigious Excellence in Volunteering Awards recognise both staff and volunteers who have gone above and beyond what is expected of them.

Members of both stations attended a celebratory dinner at the Playfair Library in Edinburgh on Saturday 16 November, hosted by the RNLI’s chairman Stuart Popham and Scottish chairman Roger Lockwood.

Tobermory crew and partners with RNLI chairman Stuart Popham | Photo: RNLI/TobermoryTobermory crew and partners with RNLI chairman Stuart Popham. From left: Annette Stirling, Mick Stirling, Eug Thomasson, Simon Thomasson, Will Thorne, RNLI chairman Stuart Popham, Kirsty Blackhall, Iain Malcolm, Mhairi McAdam and Ian McAdam | Photo: RNLI/Tobermory

The dinner rounded off a busy week for Tobermory RNLI. Members of the crew represented the station at the previous weekend’s Remembrance events in Tobermory, including the community commemoration, ‘Mull Remembers’, on Saturday 9 November and Sunday’s service at Tobermory Parish Church and wreath-laying at the war memorial.

Tobermory’s RNLI shop and fundraising branc,h along with some members of the crew, also hosted a mince pie and coffee morning at the Aros Hall on Saturday 16 November. This well-attended annual event took over £600 in shop sales and an incredible £508 from a raffle and donations.

McHaffie said: “The awards to the station recognise the hard work of everyone involved, particularly our volunteers who give up so much of their free time, not only for training and carrying out rescues, but also for helping to make the station run effectively and efficiently.

“I’m pleased that some partners of the crew were also able to attend the celebratory dinner in Edinburgh as we couldn’t operate without the support of our families and friends.”

Published in Scottish Waters

Invergordon RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew launched at 8.36pm last night (Saturday 23 November) to reports of a vessel with no power drifting towards oil rigs in the Cromarty Firth.

The all-weather Trent class lifeboat Douglas Aikman Smith made best speed to the location of two anchored oil rigs — iconic fixtures in the firth — with the two male occupants of the stricken RIB signalling their location by head torch.

After suffering engine trouble shortly after setting off from Nigg, the RIB had drifted a considerable distance with the incoming tide, coming close to the unmanned structures before the lifeboat arrived on scene five minutes after launching.

With no medical issues and the casualties assessed, the lifeboat took the 10ft RIB under tow to Nigg slipway to be recovered and escorted its two crew safely ashore in the lifeboat’s XP boat.

Published in Scottish Waters

It was a sad day this week as Stonehaven RNLI said goodbye to the last Atlantic 75 lifeboat in service in Scotland.

The volunteer crew in Aberdeenshire watched as Miss Berry was winched out of the water to be transported to Poole.

A brand new Atlantic 85, Jamie Hunter, is due to arrive on station in the next few weeks. At the moment the crew are training hard on a relief Atlantic 85.

The new lifeboat has some advancement on its predecessor. The Atlantic 85 design allows room for four crew members and more kit than the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, which only had room for three crew.

It is powered by two 115hp engines and has a stronger hull and greater top speed of 35 knots. The added radar allows the crew to operate more effectively in poor visibility and there is also VHF direction-finding equipment.

The Atlantic 85, which was introduced to the RNLI fleet in 2005, also carries a full suite of communication and electronic navigation aids, as well as a searchlight, night-vision equipment and flares for night-time operations.

Stonehaven lifeboat operations manager Andy Martin said: “We are all sorry to say goodbye to Miss Betty. The Atlantic 75 has been a great lifeboat and kept many people safe, but we are proud to be the custodians of this new lifeboat that will allow our volunteers to save many more lives in the years to come.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Howth RNLI is hosting a special Lifeboat Supporters’ Evening tonight, Tuesday 19 November, from 7.30pm at Howth Yacht Club.

Those attending will learn the latest news and updates from the Howth lifesaving volunteers, as well as see video of their vital rescue efforts.

RNLI Christmas cards and souvenirs will also be on sale to raise funs for the charity that saves lives at sea. All are welcome to attend.

This coming Thursday (21 November) there will also be a lifeboat evening at King Sitric restaurant, with a six course local seasonal menu and a lively auction in aid of Howth RNLI. Details are on Facebook HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arranmore RNLI has paid tribute to lifeboat volunteer Lee Early, who died on Sunday (17 November) after an incident at a pier on the Co Donegal island.

TheJournal.ie reports that Early (26) and another man, who survived the incident, were in a car that slipped off the pier into the sea around 5.10am.

It’s believed they had been trying to turn the car on the pier when the accident occurred.

Early’s remains were escorted back to Arranmore yesterday evening (Monday 18 November) ahead of his funeral scheduled for noon tomorrow at St Crone’s Church.

“He was a proud Lifeboatman, a skilled Skipper and a much loved friend to us all, he will be greatly missed by the whole community,” the lifeboat team said in a statement on Facebook.

“The Arranmore Community & diaspora, along with the RNLI and wider SAR community will stand with the Early family at this difficult time. Ar dhéis Dé go mbeidh a anam dilís.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lerwick lifeboat launched late Friday night (15 November) to the aid of a fishing vessel which had grounded on rocks just north of the Shetland Islands harbour.

The 26-metre, Inverness-registered trawler was stuck fast and was listing when the Severn-class all-weather lifeboat arrived on scene around 1.40am.

Lerwick Port Authority vessels Knab and Kebister, and the fishing vessel Faithlie, also arrived soon after to assist.

After assessing the damage, attempts by the lifeboat crew to tow the vessel off the rocks on a falling tide were unsuccessful, with two tow lines on the lifeboat snapped in the effort. The other vessels on scene were also unable to free the trawler from the rock.

The nine crew members were taken off the stricken vessel by the lifeboat around 4am and safely returned to Lerwick Harbour, with only minor injuries, and into the care of the ambulance service.

Weather conditions were calm with light winds and a moderate sea swell, with the air temperature just above freezing.

Around 12 hours later, the lifeboat returned to the scene to assist with another attempt to refloat the vessel at high tide, just before 1pm on Saturday.

The Knab and Kebister were successful in pulling the vessel off the rocks on Saturday afternoon and took the vessel under tow into Lerwick Harbour, accompanied by Lerwick lifeboat.

Lerwick RNLI’s deputy coxswain Tommy Goudie said: “The outcome of this grounding could have been a lot worse. Thanks to fair weather and the combined efforts of ourselves and Lerwick Port Authority vessels, the fishing crew are safe, and the vessel is now safely in harbour.

“The crew did the right thing by contacting the coastguard as soon as they knew they needed help. They were wearing survival suits and life jackets and deployed their life raft in case it became necessary. Our crew are always ready to respond and we’re pleased to be able to assist.”

Published in Scottish Waters

Wicklow RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat put to sea at 1.20pm on Saturday afternoon (16 November) after being tasked to assist a whelk fishing vessel in difficulties.

The lifeboat, under the command of coxswain Nick Keogh and a volunteer crew, was alongside the drifting vessel half an hour later, some 10 miles south east of Wicklow harbour.

A rope had been fouled in the vessel’s propeller while whelk fishing and it had lost all propulsion.

Weather conditions on scene had a moderate sea state, with winds north-westerly Force 4 and good visibility.

A towline was quickly established and the fishing vessel was towed into Wicklow Harbour, where the three fishermen were landed safely ashore and the boat was secured alongside the south quay at 4.30pm.

The crew on the callout alongside Keogh were mechanic Brendan Copeland, David O’Leary, Lisa O’Leary and John Stapleton.

Published in Fishing
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