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Displaying items by tag: Lifeboats

Following previous appearances by Dunmore East, Kilmore Quay and Rosslare Harbour RNLI, the volunteer lifeboat crew in Portrush will be taking to the small screen next Tuesday 2 November as they feature in the 10th and final episode of this series of Saving Lives at Sea.

Real-life rescue footage gives a frontline view of how the charity’s lifesavers risk their own lives as they go to the aid of those in danger at sea and strive to save every one. It’s accompanied by emotive interviews from the volunteer lifeboat crews alongside the people they rescue and their families.

Now in its sixth series, the 10-part maritime TV documentary showcases the lifesaving work of the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews from around Ireland and the UK. The series is on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 8pm as well as being available following broadcast on BBC iPlayer (for viewers in the UK).

The final episode of the current series sees Portrush RNLI rescue a teenage boy who gets into difficulty while jumping into the sea off rocks at Portstewart Head.

As the all-weather lifeboat approaches the scene, the crew observe a person in the water waving their arms. A teenage boy who is wearing a wetsuit is struggling against an ebbing tide which is pulling him away from the land and out to sea off the west side of Portstewart Head.

Coxswain Des Austin manoeuvres the lifeboat close to where the casualty is in the surf and breaking waves while the station’s mechanic Dave Robinson dons a drysuit and PPE. A line is attached to the mechanic who jumps into the water and grabs the casualty to safety.

The lifeboat crew administer casualty care to the boy, who is showing signs of hypothermia and exhaustion and is suffering from the effects of shock.

Austin said: “It’s great that we can showcase the lifesaving work of RNLI volunteers in a TV programme like this. Without the generous support and donations from the public, we wouldn’t be able to save lives at sea and it’s great to be able to share what we do with our supporters from the comfort of their own home.”

During 2020, RNLI lifeboats in Northern Ireland launched 234 times with their volunteer crews coming to the aid of 253 people. Eighty-nine of those launches were carried out in the hours of darkness. RNLI lifeguards meanwhile responded to 225 incidents coming to the aid of 285 people, six of whom were lives saved.

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Ballycotton RNLI’s all-weather Trent class lifeboat Austin Lidbury was called out by Valentia Coast Guard to a report from a passing yacht of a possible upturned boat south of Nohaval.

Conditions were fresh with Force 6-7 south-westerly winds and clear visibility when the lifeboat launched at 2.20pm yesterday afternoon (Sunday 24 October).

Two miles west of Daunt Rock, the lifeboat crew discovered the remains of an old boat with its hull upturned in the water. It is believed it may have been washed out to sea as a result of recent storms.

Ballycotton RNLI duty coxswain Barry Murphy said: “Thankfully this was a false alarm, and the call was made with good intent. The RNLI would always ask members of the public to call 999/112 if they feel somebody is in possible danger.”

All crew from Ballycotton RNLI returned safely at 5.20pm to refuel and wash down in preparation for the next callout.

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Portrush RNLI’s lifeboat volunteers dashed out of a book launch to a very different kind of launch yesterday afternoon (Saturday 23 October) following reports of two paddle boarders in difficulty some 600 metres off Portstewart Strand on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.

Launching at 2.32pm on request of Belfast Coastguard, the inshore lifeboat arrived on scene 12 minutes later amid choppy seas and squally showers with a southerly wind.

The volunteer crew quickly located the two paddle boarders on one board, and were able to get both safely back to shore, where they were handed into the care of the local coastguard team.

At the time the pagers were activated, the crew had been supporting their lifeboat medical officer Dr Martin O’Kane at the launch of his book Dee the Little Lifeboat.

Alice Rohdich and Martin O’Kane with their book Dee the Little Lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Judy NelsonAlice Rohdich and Martin O’Kane with their book Dee the Little Lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Judy Nelson

Dr O’Kane wrote the children’s book as a fundraiser for the station and is illustrated by local artist Alice Rohdich, wife of former lifeboat crew member Damian Rohdich.

The assembled guests including local MLAs, councillors, journalists and friends were treated the sound of several pagers being activated and a scramble of yellow-clad volunteer lifeboat crew running out the door towards the lifeboat house in very dramatic start to a wonderful book launch.

Portrush RNLI press officer Judy Nelson said: “I could not have timed this shout any better if I had tried. This certainly showed people how quickly the crew respond to the pager and to see them all running for the door certainly added to the drama.

“It certainly helped to reinforce how important our fundraising events are — to support our volunteer crew to save all lives at sea.”

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A dad’s passion for the old Clifden RNLI lifeboat he served on has passed to the next generation as his son has purchased the first lifeboat his father helmed in 1996.

James Mullen, a coxswain at Clifden RNLI in Co Galway with over 27 years voluntary service saving lives at sea on the West Coast of Ireland, is also a proud dad to four boys who have inherited their father’s remarkable passion for the sea, the RNLI and everything to do with boats.

It’s this passion which inspired James’ 14-year-old son Ronan to track down and buy the C-class 522 inshore lifeboat which was stationed in Clifden between 1989 and 1997.

The boat holds so many memories for James as a teenage RNLI recruit and when his sons would ask him for the history of the station and his favourite lifeboat, the stories he told them always came back to the C-class.

Remembering his early crew years, James said: “I loved the sea, I had lived beside it my whole life and [then] finally, at 17 years old and with my parent’s consent, I was lifeboat crew.

“We had many call outs on the C-class and she was an amazing boat; she was hard on the back but she never failed to bring us home. This craft was the finest money could buy and I was so impressed with her.

“I remember a call one winter’s night in 1995, we were going to rescue a boat that had gotten into difficulty at sea. The weather was terrible with Force 7-8 westerly winds. It was up to us and our trusty C-class inshore lifeboat to get everyone home safe.

“As the seas got rougher, the C-class dug in deeper and when we were all safely back at shore I remember thinking what an incredible boat she was to stand up against those huge waves.”

Clifden lifeboat crew at the old D-class station in 1995, when James was 18 years old | Credit: RNLI/ClifdenClifden lifeboat crew at the old D-class station in 1995, when James was 18 years old | Credit: RNLI/Clifden

James’ beloved C-class was retired from service and left Clifden in 1997 but not much was known about her fate after that. So young Ronan, inspired by his father’s stories, embarked on an internet search to track her down.

Through various searches and online forums, Ronan established that the lifeboat went from Clifden to Ballyglas RNLI in Co Mayo for a short period, from there to the RNLI Museum in Poole and eventually to a private owner in the UK. Ronan located and struck up a friendship with the owner, who happened to be a fellow RNLI crew member based in Weston-Super-Mare.

Eventually, a deal was done, Ronan purchased his father’s favourite old lifeboat and the family brought her back to Clifden to the delight of the whole Mullen clan, Clifden RNLI crew and the many locals who remember her dutiful service.

Ronan describes the moment he found a photo of the lifeboat online: “I was so shocked, I had been looking online for ages and when I finally came across a photo of the C-class I said to Dad, is that her? And he said, it definitely is. After that I knew we had to have that boat. I love the boat, I love being out on the water and the minute I am old enough I will be joining the RNLI.”

James added: “Our station has grown a lot over the years thanks to the dedication of our volunteer crew, we now use an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, a Shannon class all-weather lifeboat and are awaiting delivery of a very special boat next spring.

“Our new Shannon class ALB is being built at the moment and when she comes to Clifden she will carry the names of 10,000 loved ones from the launch a memory campaign.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see the next generation of lifeboat enthusiasts coming up, when I look at my four boys now I think, was I like they are now 27 years ago? Their whole life ahead of them and a future filled with love for the sea and the RNLI.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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At their recent ‘Family Day’ on Sunday 3 October, Lough Derg RNLI volunteers took the opportunity to acknowledge the years of dedication of former helm Peter Clarke and lifeboat operations manager Liam Maloney.

The COVID guidelines-compliant luncheon at Larkins Restaurant in Garrykennedy was hosted to thank the lifeboat crew’s families for their unflagging support and understanding of the demands involved in being a lifeboat volunteer.

The team invited former helm Peter Clarke and his family to join the party. After the lunch, and on behalf of all the volunteers, helms Owen Cavanagh and Eleanor Hooker presented Peter with an Kimmeridge RNLI Special Edition watch, in appreciation of his 14 years’ service as helm.

Crew member Chris Parker also presented Peter with a framed Certificate of Service on behalf of the RNLI.

Peter is a busy dairy farmer with a young family. Eleanor spoke of Peter’s dedication, good humour and positive attitude especially on some of the most challenging shouts on Lough Derg. She said the station would love to see him return to the crew when he has more time.

Owen and Eleanor also presented Liam Maloney with a Kimmeridge RNLI Special Edition watch and a Lough Derg RNLI Helly Hansen jacket as a thank-you for the six years he served as the station’s lifeboat operations manager and 19 years volunteering for the RNLI.

A former headmaster at Carrig Primary School, Liam is also a skilled boat builder and one of the most formidable competitive dinghy sailors at Lough Derg Yacht Club.

Liam has been a volunteer with Lough Derg RNLI since preparations for the station began in 2002-03, when he made the assembly hall at his school available for meetings and classroom training for crew.

He says that as he was outside the age to volunteer as crew, he became a deputy launching authority when the station went live for service in 2004.

Christine O’Malley, who took over as lifeboat operations manager on 8 January this year, praised Liam for his hard work in maintaining a high standard of operations at the station, and for his success in involving the local community in the crew and operations team. Liam remains with the station as a deputy launching authority.

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Both Dun Laoghaire lifeboats were paged by the Irish Coast Guard after an open-water swimmer was reported missing yesterday (Saturday 16 October).

The swimmer was part of an organised swimming group who quickly realised that one of their number was no longer with them.

Within 23 minutes of the pager alert, the Dublin Bay station’s inshore lifeboat — helmed by Gary Hayes — located the missing swimmer and pulled them aboard the lifeboat. Other than their being very cold, all was well.

The lifeboat unit noted that all the swimmers were well equipped with bright hats and floats which made searching for the missing swimmer far easier.

Ed Totterdell, Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager, said: “It was great to see that the swimming group were wearing hi-viz swimming hats, swim floats and kept a close eye on each other. Being this prepared enabled them to raise the alarm as soon as they realised one of the group was missing.

“Remember, when swimming, make sure someone knows where you are, wear appropriate clothing for the weather, take a means of calling for help in a dry pouch and always swim within your abilities.”

The RNLI has guidance for open-water swimming on its website.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portrush RNLI has had a busy Sunday launching to separate reports of kayakers and paddle boarders in difficulty yesterday (10 October).

In the first callout, the all-weather lifeboat crew were paged just after 10am to reports of kayakers in difficulty at Portballintrae, on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.

However, the kayakers were able to make their way back to harbour and the lifeboat returned to station.

In the afternoon, the lifeboat was requested to launch at 3.24pm to reports of stand-up paddle boarders in difficulty off Ballintoy. Visibility was good with partial cloud but sea conditions were choppy.

The volunteer crew launched at 3.40pm and arrived on scene at 4.08pm along with both Red Bay RNLI lifeboats. By the time all lifeboats arrived on scene, the paddle boarders had been able to get onto Sheep Island.

Sea and weather conditions prevented the Portrush crew from launching the Y boat to assist the stranded paddle boarders.

By this time an SAR helicopter from HM Coastguard was on the way and both Portrush and Red Bay RNLI were asked to stand by until the casualties were recovered successfully off the island and handed over to coastguard shore crew.

Beni McAllister, Portrush lifeboat operations manager, said: “This was a busy day for our volunteer crew and our flank station Red Bay RNLI, and we commend members of the public who alerted the emergency services very quickly as these two incidences could have had very different outcomes.”

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The volunteer crew at Portaferry RNLI launched at the request of a stand-up paddle boarder in difficulty on Guns Island in Co Down yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 5 October).

Launching at 3.14pm in sunny weather with good visibility and a Force 5 northwesterly wind, the inshore lifeboat arrived on scene 10 minutes later and a crew member was placed on the island to assess the casualty.

The paddle boarder was beginning to suffer from mild hypothermia after having been in the water for some time prior to the lifeboat’s arrival. They were placed onboard the lifeboat and taken ashore at Ballyhornan Bay, where they were transferred to the care of Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Fergal Glynn said: ‘“he casualty was wearing appropriate clothing and had made the right decision to make himself safe on the island once they had got into difficulty.

“We would urge anyone planning to spend time on the water to be careful of the conditions and particularly the wind direction, as offshore winds can prove difficult to fight against.”

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Skerries RNLI thanked two young fundraisers when they were presented with a cheque for €150 this week.

Abi Ferguson and Niamh O’Reilly presented the volunteers at the north Co Dublin lifeboat station with the generous donation before GAA training on Thursday evening (30 September).

The two girls raised the money by holding a cake sale outside Abi’s house last month. The actual total was even higher as they raised €175.

Both girls love their GAA so to thank them for their support, Abi’s father Philip — who is a long-standing member of the crew in Skerries — organised for Dublin GAA legend and RNLI ambassador Lyndsey Davey to meet the girls and help them present the cheque.

Skerries lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It’s still a very difficult environment for fundraising at the minute so it’s an incredible achievement by two youngsters. They are two future fundraising superstars.

“We’d also like to say a huge thank you to Lyndsey for giving up her time. She was fantastic with the girls who were a little starstruck at first but were soon bombarding her with questions.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Two men have been towed to safety by Skerries RNLI after their 34ft yacht experienced engine failure.

Shortly after noon yesterday (Friday 24 September), the duo reported the loss of both drive and steering via VHF radio to Dublin Coast Guard — who in turn requested the launch of Skerries’ inshore lifeboat Louis Simson.

The RNLI volunteers headed for the yacht’s reported location some two miles northeast of Lambay Island, narrowed down with the help of GPS coordinates obtained by the coastguard.

Conditions at the time had one-metre swells with a Force 5-6 southerly wind, occasionally gusting to Force 7.

Once on scene, the lifeboat helm carried out a risk assessment and decided the safest course of action would be to tow the vessel to the nearest suitable berth in Malahide Marina.

A towing bridle was rigged on board the yacht before a line was passed from the lifeboat for an astern tow as far as the entrance to Malahide Estuary, which took about an hour.

From there the tow was changed to an alongside tow, giving the lifeboat better control as it manoeuvred up the narrow channel towards the marina, where the yacht was safely tied up at the pontoon.

Speaking later, Skerries RNLI’s Gerry Canning said: “Today’s callout goes to show the importance of carrying a means to contact the shore.

“The sailors today were very experienced and had all the best equipment, but things can still go wrong out on the water. They were able to provide us with their exact location using GPS which is always a great help.

“The crew in the boat then did a great job using all their experience and training to make a difficult tow look easy.”

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