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Starting on Good Friday, 19 April, RNLI lifeguards will be operating a daily patrol from 11am to 7pm on Benone Strand, Portstewart Strand, West Strand and East Strand in Portrush, and Whiterocks. The Easter service will run until Sunday 28 April.

The lifeguards' role is to keep beachgoers safe by spotting the dangers and preventing accidents before they happen, as well as responding instantly if they occur. They monitor sea conditions to set up the appropriate flags, watch people on the beach and offer safety advice both on the beach and when not on patrol, in classrooms through the RNLI’s education programmes before the summer season.

Speaking ahead of going live for Easter, Karl O’Neill, RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor said the lifeguards had been undergoing intensive training in recent weeks: ‘Our lifeguard induction covers seven key areas which provide new lifeguards with the information they need to carry out their work safely and effectively. Lifeguards then put their knowledge into practice during a series of staged scenarios. Then they’re ready to hit the ground running on the first day of the lifeguard season.

"Last year, lifeguards in Northern Ireland responded to 283 incidents and came to the aid of 252 people"

‘Working alongside our colleagues in the Causeway Coast and Glens District Council, the RNLI is delighted to be back for the 2019 season and our lifeguards are looking forward to putting their training and skills into action. We are here to provide a safe environment on the beach and to promote safe behaviour so that visitors can enjoy their day and return home safely at the end of it. We would encourage visitors to speak to our lifeguards, ask for safety advice, and to call on them should they get into difficulty.’

Last year, lifeguards in Northern Ireland responded to 283 incidents and came to the aid of 252 people.

The RNLI’s advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach is to respect the water, check weather and tide times before you go and if planning to go into the water, swim at a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags. Avoid using inflatables in strong winds or rough seas.

If you get into trouble, stick your hand in the air and shout for help and if you see someone else in trouble, tell a lifeguard. If you can’t see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Following Easter, the RNLI will be providing weekend cover on these beaches before taking up full-time daily patrol for the summer on 11 beaches on the Causeway Coast and in County Down including Downhill, Castlerock, Ballycastle, Tyrella, Murlough and Cranfield.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A volunteer crew from Portaferry RNLI launched to a 999 call in the early hours of Sunday morning (14 April) reporting that a yacht with three people on board had hit rocks at Rainey Island near Ballydoran in Strangford Lough.

The lifeboat launched at 1.50am in cloudy weather conditions with good visibility and Force 4 south-easterly winds. The Portaferry crew arrived on scene 35 minute later with good visibility and a moderate sea state.

When the volunteer crew arrived on scene, they found that the yacht had made itself off the rocks and proceeded into Strangford Lough Yacht Club.

Portaferry RNLI closely followed the boat to the pontoon, went alongside yacht and checked that all onboard were safe and well before returning to station at 3.35am.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Wicklow RNLI volunteers were alerted by pager at 1.05pm on Friday afternoon (12 April) following a launch request to assist a fishing boat with engine failure.

The all-weather lifeboat Jock and Annie Slater put to sea shortly before 1.15pm under the command of coxswain Nick Keogh and proceeded towards the vessel, which was reported to be 23 miles north-east of Wicklow Harbour.

The lifeboat was alongside the 10-metre fishing boat an hour later. Conditions in the area were good, with south-easterly Force 3 winds.

The fishing vessel with three crew had developed mechanical problems and had lost propulsion. A towline was secured, and the vessel was towed back towards Wicklow over the next three-and-a-half hours, being secured safely alongside the North Quay shortly before 6pm.

This was the third callout since the all-weather lifeboat Jock and Annie Slater went on station at Wicklow on Friday 5 April.

Earlier in the week, Kilkeel RNLI’s volunteer crew launched at 4.20pm on Wednesday (10 April) to respond to a call from the skipper of a fishing boat that a semi-submerged kayak was adrift at Leestone Point, north east of Kilkeel Harbour.

Conditions were good and the crew arrived quickly on scene. On examination of the kayak, the crew found there was an algae growth on her bottom and no signs that it had been recently occupied.

With no reports of a missing kayaker, the kayak was taken on board the lifeboat which then returned to the station. Kilkeel Coastguard were in attendance.

Speaking afterwards, John Fisher, Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: “It is important that if a small craft is lost or abandoned that it is reported to the coastguard. This will prevent any further reports by concerned members of the public or other persons.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Lifeboats - Baltimore RNLI carried out a medevac on Thursday night (11 April) from Sherkin Island off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat following a request from the Irish Coast Guard at 9.29pm to provide medical assistance and evacuation to an islander living on Sherkin.

Conditions at sea during the callout were calm with good visibility and no sea swell.

The lifeboat arrived at Sherkin pier at 9.45pm, the casualty was brought onboard and the lifeboat departed the island within four minutes, handing the casualty over to the care of HSE ambulance crew at 10.08pm.

Speaking following the callout, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer, said: “Baltimore RNLI regularly provides the vital service of medical evacuations (medevacs) for residents and visitors to local islands such as Sherkin, Cape Clear and Heir.

“If you find yourself in need of medical assistance, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Elsewhere, volunteer lifeboat crews from the Aran Islands and Galway RNLI participated in a multi-agency training exercise on Galway Bay this week.

The all-weather lifeboat from Aran Islands RNLI and the inshore lifeboat from Galway Bay RNLI were among the many emergency service agencies that took part in a maritime mass rescue exercise.

The scenario training, which saw the lifeboat crew practise an evacuation of survivors from a seagoing ferry in a busy shipping lane, was organised as part of a multi-agency exercise co-ordinated by the Irish Coast Guard.

Among the other agencies involved were the Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopters located at Sligo and Shannon, Doolin/Inisheer Boat Unit, Costello Bay, Killaloe, Kilkee and Cleggan Coast Guard units, Galway Fire Service and the HSE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The RNLI is calling on people to support their volunteer lifeboat crews as Mayday, the charity’s annual fundraising campaign, was launched yesterday. Volunteer crewmember and comedian PJ Gallagher joined members of Dun Laoghaire RNLI, where he volunteers, to help well-known fundraiser, Mary Nolan Hickey on her way as she cycles around Ireland for Mayday.

As Afloat.ie reported yesterday, Veteran marathon runner Mary Nolan Hickey ran around the coastline of Ireland last year to raise funds for the RNLI at the age of 65. She raised over €72,000 but felt that she had not yet completed her fundraising for the charity. On Sunday, Mary will leave Arklow to cycle around Ireland on her bike to try and bring her funds raised for the charity to €100,000.

For the month of May, the RNLI’s Mayday campaign is asking people to ‘do their bit, to fund our kit’ with the lifesaving charity hoping to raise €780,000 to fund the crucial kit volunteer crews rely on, which includes lifejackets, helmets and the RNLI’s yellow wellies. There are over 1,500 volunteer lifeboat crew members in Ireland providing a 24-hour search and rescue service and last year they launched 995 times, bringing 1,351 people to safety. Of that figure, 18 people were lives saved by the direct action of the lifeboat crews. These rescues are only possible because of the donations made to the charity by members of the public.

Speaking at the launch, RNLI volunteer crewmember and comedian PJ Gallagher said, ‘Being a volunteer lifeboat crewmember with the RNLI, I know first-hand the commitment it takes. Our crews drop everything when their pagers go off to launch the lifeboat and head out to help those in trouble. Our lifeboat crew kit gives us the confidence to face all weathers and conditions, day or night. The right kit is vital in helping to make sure we do what we are trained to do and that we bring everyone home safely.

‘I hope people will answer the RNLI’s Mayday appeal and do something to support the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew in Ireland. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is. Every piece of kit on a volunteer has been funded through the generosity of people who donated to the charity.’

RNLI Fundraiser Mary Nolan Hickey is about to embark on her next adventure, which she has named Lap of the Map 2. At the launch, Mary said: ‘People think I am mad doing this but I have unfinished business for the lifeboat crews. I had no idea of the support I would get when I started but then I called into the lifeboat stations, particularly in rural coastal communities and I saw the incredible work the crew are doing and it made up my mind that if I had the energy, I would do this encore, so here I go.’

‘I’d love people to feel inspired by my story and to do something for Mayday. There are all sorts of ways to fundraise, from wearing wellies to work or doing a sponsored welly walk, to holding a bake sale or doing a sponsored cycle ride. Anyone can register for a free fundraising pack by visiting RNLI.org/Mayday.’

People who wish to get involved should visit RNLI.org/Mayday to register for a free Mayday pack. The pack provides a host of fundraising ideas. The charity is also encouraging people to show support on their social media, joining the conversation using the hashtag #MaydayEveryDay, or by donating online or buying a yellow welly pin badge.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Mary Nolan Hickey (66) ran around Ireland for the RNLI lifeboat last year, but is now setting off again on her bike for the same cause writes Lorna Siggins.

The veteran athlete from Arklow, Co Wicklow with some 57 marathons under her belt, raised over €72,000 (euro) for the RNLI in 2018.

The coastal circuit involved running some 1,509 miles on her “lap of the map”, but she says she won’t be content till she drums up €100,000 in total for the lifeboat service.

She will cycle two weeks on and one week off during her “lap of the map mark II”, setting out this Sunday (Apr 14).

“‘People think I am mad doing this but I have unfinished business for the lifeboat crews,” she says.

“ I had no idea of the support I would get when I started but then I called into the lifeboat stations, particularly in rural coastal communities, and I saw the incredible work the crews are doing,” she says.

It made up my mind that if I had the energy, I would do this encore...so here I go..’, Ms Nolan Hickey says.

Her latest fundraising project is part of the RNLI’s annual Mayday campaign, which is appealing to people to “do their bit to fund our kit”.

The lifeboat charity wants to raise €780,000 for equipment, including lifejackets, helmets and the RNLI’s distinctive “yellow wellies”.

Over 1,500 volunteer crew require all-weather gear suitable for long and often hazardous call-outs. The 24-hour search and rescue service launched 995 times last year, bringing 1,351 people to safety.

Of that figure, a total of 18 people had their lives saved by the direct action of the lifeboat crews, the RNLI says.

RNLI voluntary crew member and comedian PJ Gallagher, who has endorsed the campaign, says that he knows at first hand what the commitment involves.

“Our crews drop everything when their pagers go off to launch the lifeboat and head out to help those in trouble,” he says.

“ Our lifeboat crew kit gives us the confidence to face all weathers and conditions, day or night. The right kit is vital in helping to make sure we do what we are trained to do, and that we bring everyone home safely,” he says.

“I hope people will answer the RNLI’s Mayday appeal, and do something to support the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew in Ireland,” Mr Browne adds.

“It doesn’t matter how big or small it is. Every piece of kit on a volunteer has been funded through the generosity of people who donated to the charity,” he says.

Ms Nolan Hickey says she would “ love people to feel inspired by my story and to do something for Mayday”.

“There are all sorts of ways to fundraise, from wearing wellies to work or doing a sponsored welly walk, to holding a bake sale or doing a sponsored cycle ride,” she says.

The RNLI says that anyone can register for a free fundraising pack by visiting RNLI.org/Mayday.

The pack provides fundraising ideas. The charity is also encouraging support on social media, through online conversation with the hashtag #MaydayEveryDay.

People can donate online, or buy a yellow welly pin badge from accredited fundraisers, it says.

Ms Nolan Hickey’s official RNLI fundraising page is here

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Wicklow RNLI’s relief Shannon class lifeboat Jock and Annie Slater has its first callout yesterday morning (Tuesday 9 April) to go to the aid of a whelk-fishing vessel with engine failure.

The lifeboat, under the command of second coxswain Ciaran Doyle, located the drifting vessel two miles east of Kilcoole at 11.10am.

Weather conditions in the area at the time had an easterly Force 5 with moderate sea.

A towline was quickly established, and the trawler was taken in tow. The fishing vessel and three crew were brought safely alongside the South Quay in Wicklow Harbour shortly after 12.30pm.

This was the first callout for the Shannon class lifeboat which went on station last Friday.

It comes during a very busy period at Wicklow RNLI as Jock and Annie Slater replaced Annie Blaker, the last Tyne class lifeboat in the RNLI fleet, which was officially retired last Friday 4 April after 30 years of service with Wicklow lifeboat station.

The slipway-launched lifeboat has been the busiest all-weather lifeboat in the history of the station — being involved in over 340 services, and rescuing over 400 people, since her arrival in 1989.

The final callout for Annie Blaker came last Thursday evening (3 April) when coxswain Nick Keogh and a volunteer crew launched to assist two sailors on a yacht with a rope-fouled propeller nine miles off the Wicklow coast.

Annie Blaker has been replaced by the relief lifeboat Jock and Annie Slater, which will operate from temporary facilities at the South Quay while the slipway and station are redeveloped to accommodate a new permanent lifeboat, which is expected to arrive in 2022.

Wicklow RNLI operations manager Des Davit said: “This month will be bittersweet for all of us involved in Wicklow Lifeboat Station. We will be saying goodbye to a magnificent boat, the last Tyne in the fleet, the Annie Blaker.

“At the same time, thanks to a magnificent effort of skill, determination and commitment by the crew just one month after her arrival, Lifeboat 13-01, the Jock and Annie Slater, went on service.

“Because of the skill of the crew and their huge commitment to training this new, state of the art lifeboat went on service much earlier than anticipated.

“We hope to have a farewell party for ‘Annie’ later in the month so keep an eye out for more information on this both in the press and on social media.”

In other news, BT Ireland, operator of the national 999/112 emergency call answering service, has donated €5,000 to the RNLI.

Bundoran, Rosslare and Courtmacsherry RNLI each received donations through BT Ireland’s nationwide payroll giving scheme ‘Give As You Earn’ to support their vital services in the community.

Captain Tony McGowan, Bundoran RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: “This is a huge donation that will help our lifeboat crews continue to save lives at sea.

“These funds will help to ensure our crews are fully kitted, trained and skilled to do the work that they do and that our lifeboat is equipped, fuelled and maintained.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI was requested by Valentia Coast Guard to assist four people, three adults and a child on a 35ft cruiser aground behind the Corrakeen Islands in Dromineer Bay yesterday.

The lifeboat was launched at 5.39pm with helm Eleanor Hooker, Dom Sharkey, Owen Cavanagh and Joe O’Sullivan on board. Winds were easterly, force 2 and visibility was good.

The crew arrived on scene within three minutes. The crew took soundings of depths as they approached the casualty vessel. An RNLI volunteer transferred to the cruiser and established that all passengers were safe and unharmed. He requested them to put on their lifejackets.

Once the lifeboat volunteer was satisfied that the cruiser was not holed, he set up for the tow. The lifeboat then took the cruiser off the rocks and into safe water, where its drives and steering were checked, and found to be undamaged.

 With two volunteers on the cruiser with her passengers, the lifeboat accompanied them to Dromineer Harbour where the vessel was safely tied up alongside at 6.20pm. 

The lifeboat returned to the station as was ready for service at 7 pm. 

 Volunteer helm Eleanor Hooker advises boat users to ‘remain within the navigation marks, and to ask locals about hazards before setting out from harbour’.

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Friday night is sure to be a winner on Dublin Bay as Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club hosts its annual auction night in aid of the Howth RNLI lifeboat tonight, Friday 5 April.

Gary Sargent and Elaine Ball will host the auction from 9.30pm with many items up for bidding, including vouchers for Irish Ferries and Stena Line.

The CY&BC also invites attendees to bring along their own items for auction to raise finds for the lifesaving charity.

Complimentary wine and cheese will be served for those who come early from 8.30pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Lifeboats - Arklow RNLI launched on Tuesday (2 April) to assist a vessel in distress following a request from the Irish Coast Guard and a pager alert at 3.20pm.

The volunteer crew left their jobs and normal workday behind and within minutes of the alert were aboard the lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr and under way to the reported position, some nine miles south east of Arklow and close to the offshore Arklow sand banks.

The casualty boat, a fishing vessel, had reported engine failure and was adrift, unable to anchor.

As the lifeboat made its way to the location, fellow Arklow RNLI coxswains and crew members who were at work aboard a wind turbine transfer and maintenance vessel heard the radio request for assistance.

The work vessel was closer to the stricken fishing boat, which was by now approximately half a mile from the sandbanks and in real danger of being wrecked in the prevailing westerly wind and moderate sea conditions.

Following a consultation with the lifeboat coxswain, the workboat crew were able to get a line safely aboard the vessel and tow it away from the sandbanks for a time.

As this was in progress, the lifeboat arrived on scene and its crew set up their own tow to bring the vessel and three aboard back home to Arklow.

Following the callout, Mark Corcoran, community safety officer at Arklow RNLI, said: “Thanks to the quick thinking and actions of our volunteers who were at work on the wind turbine vessel, Arklow RNLI was in the happy position to tow this fishing vessel and her crew of three to safety.

“We would remind people to respect the water and always wear a lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help when going out on the water.”

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