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Displaying items by tag: Lifeboats

Lough Ree RNLI is urging the public using the River Shannon and Lough Ree to be safety conscious as they make the seasonal return to the waterway this weekend.

The volunteer lifeboat crew at Lough Ree RNLI have, in line with Covid-19 protocols, returned to the water for training this month and are ready for the new season on the water.

With the combination of Easter holidays, an upcoming extension in travel limits and the hope for better weather over the next few weeks, it’s expected that Lough Ree and the River Shannon will attract large numbers of local visitors.

Jude Kilmartin, Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: “We are asking everyone planning on taking to the water over the holiday period to refresh their safety procedures, check that all safety equipment is in working order and remember never to go on the lake or river without lifejackets.”

The volunteer crew of Lough Ree RNLI looks forward to working with the local community and serving those in Longford, Westmeath and Roscommon who avail of the local amenities over Easter.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Waterways Ireland has appealed for all users of Ireland’s inland waterways not to take part in any activity on the water under the prevailing pandemic restrictions.

Published in Water Safety
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Skerries RNLI rescued two stand-up paddle boarders after strong currents and Force 6 offshore winds prevented them from making their way back to shore.

Shortly before 2.30pm yesterday afternoon (Sunday 28 March), a retired Skerries RNLI volunteer noticed a man and woman struggling to make their way ashore on their paddle boards near Red Island in Skerries.

He alerted the lifeboat operations manager and following a brief discussion it was decided that the pair were not making any progress.

Dublin Coast Guard were contacted and the decision was taken to page the volunteer crew and launch the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson.

The crew rounded the headland at Red Island and arrived on scene in a matter of minutes, funding the man and woman both extremely tired from fighting against the wind and tide.

They were taken on board the lifeboat along with their paddle boards. A first-aid assessment was carried out but aside from being exhausted they did not require any further medical assistance, and the pair were returned safely to the beach at the lifeboat station.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It doesn’t matter how good your equipment is, or how prepared you are, things can still go wrong at sea.

“We would remind anyone going to sea to carry a means of contacting the shore for help, even if you do not intend to go far. Something as simple as a phone in a waterproof pouch can make all the difference.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew were asked to launch their all-weather lifeboat from Inis Mór last night (Sunday 21 March) for a local man on the neighbouring island of Inis Meáin who sustained a facial injury and was in need of further medical attention.

The lifeboat launched under coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew and headed straight for Inis Meáin. Conditions at the time of launching were good, with calm seas, a slight breeze and clear visibility.

Once at the pier in Inis Meáin, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew.

Following all strict Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, the lifeboat then processed straight for Rossaveal Harbour on the mainland and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “There was a quick response time by the volunteer crew to get the patient to the medical attention needed. The crew never hesitate to answer their pagers when they go off.

“We would like to wish the patient a speedy recovery.”

The callout came just days after the lifeboat crew were tasked with a double medevac amid poor visibility last Monday, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew at Newcastle RNLI in Co Down returned to sea recently after normal training exercises had to be curtailed due to Covid-19.

While the station has remained fully operational throughout the pandemic and volunteers have remained on call 24/7, training has been limited for Northern Ireland’s RNLI crews.

The crew took their first training session in daylight hours in Dundrum Bay while the second exercise was at night. The volunteers all wore the necessary COVID-19 PPE as well as their usual seagoing suits and lifejackets during the training.

The Mersey class all-weather lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling was given a timely workout on both occasions, which provided an opportunity for the crew members to put their training and lifesaving skills into practice.

Speaking following the exercises, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Nathan Leneghan said: “Maintaining our lifesaving service while keeping our people safe continues to be the RNLI’s main priority.

Newcastle RNLI volunteers on their recent night-time exercise

“Exercises form an important part of our work, allowing our lifeboat crews to maintain their skills and ensure they are always prepared for what they face out at sea.

“In the daylight exercise, we went on a local area knowledge exercise and mechanical shakedown to trial all the systems, ensuring they are ready when required. It was a glorious morning and a great opportunity to return to exercise.”

Newcastle RNLI’s second coxswain Niall McMurray added: “During the night-time exercise, the crew covered some mechanical engine tests after which we went on to focus on emergency procedures.

“We ran through all the alarms on the lifeboat to reacquaint ourselves with the different sounds and how to react if they were activated in a real-life situation. We practised a fire drill and how to deal with a fire in each area of the lifeboat.

“We then went on to test our flares which are primarily used to light up an area at night before concluding the evening learning how to rig and operate the emergency steering.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands RNLI was tasked for a medevac from Inis Mór as a scheduled patient transfer by air was cancelled due to poor visibility yesterday morning, Monday 15 March.

Due to poor visibility, a scheduled patient transfer by air was unable to go ahead. The crew were requested to transfer the patient to Rossaveal.

Following all strict Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat to Rossaveal by both the RNLI crew, under John O'Donnell, and the Inis Mór Fire Service.

Having just launched on the return leg, the lifeboat was called back to Inis Mór as another patient on the island needed further medical attention.

The second patient was safely transferred aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew at the pontoon on Inis Mór, and the lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, Aran Islands RNLI coxswain John O'Donnell said: “The volunteer crew responded quickly and two patients are safely on their way to further medical attention — we would like to wish them both a speedy recovery.

“Poor visibility can be very dangerous on the water. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

File image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat (Photo: RNLI/Fenit)File image of Fenit RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Photo: RNLI/Fenit

Elsewhere, Fenit RNLI’s volunteer crew responded to a report of concern for a windsurfer in the Maharees Islands area early on Sunday evening, 14 March.

The all-weather lifeboat launched with a full crew on board and headed to the location near Castlegregory, on the north side of the Dingle Peninsula.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 also attended the scene in a search co-ordinated by Valentia Coast Guard.

A search of the given location was under way when word was received that the windsurfer had safely made his way ashore.

Speaking following the callout, Fenit RNLI coxswain Finbarr O’Connell said: “Fenit RNLI are delighted with a safe and positive outcome for all concerned. As always this is an opportunity to remind all users of the sea to be as prepared as possible when going to sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Skerries RNLI carried out a medical evacuation of a crewman from a survey vessel six miles north of Skerries last night, Wednesday 10 March.

Shortly after 8pm, the lifeboat crew were tasked by Dublin Coast Guard following a call from the skipper of the vessel requesting assistance for a crew member who had been feeling unwell for a number of hours and was showing no signs of improvement.

On arrival at the survey vessel amid Force 5-6 winds, the lifeboat was carefully manoeuvred into position on the starboard side where a boarding ladder was lowered for the casualty to disembark.

The lifeboat crew carried out an initial assessment of the casualty and tried to keep him as comfortable as possible on the way back to the station and the care of the waiting paramedics, who transferred him to hospital for further assessment.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It wasn’t a particularly pleasant evening to be out on a lifeboat, but our volunteers are always ready to go when they get the call.

“It was great to have the ambulance waiting on arrival and we wish the gentleman a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arklow RNLI’s new station mechanic responded to his first callout yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 10 March) when the lifeboat was tasked to assist a fishing vessel off Arklow Pier.

The volunteer crew left their lunch and were under way aboard the all-weather Trent class lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr within minutes of the request.

In challenging conditions and rising winds and seas, the lifeboat made its way to the reported position around a quarter of a mile north-east of Arklow Pier.

Once on scene, it was confirmed the casualty vessel with three people aboard had lost propulsion. A towline was established and the fishing boat was towed back to Arklow where all hands came ashore safely.

Following the callout, Mark Corcoran, community safety officer at Arklow RNLI, said: “Whether you are a professional fisherman or a leisure boat user, we would remind people to respect the water and always wear a lifejacket and carry a means of calling for help like a marine radio.

“This was also our first callout for our new station mechanic James Russell. On behalf of all at Arklow RNLI, we wish to congratulate James on his new role at Arklow lifeboat station.”

James takes over the role from Michael Fitzgerald, who recently retired after 40 years of dedicated service to the charity that saves lives at sea.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arklow RNLI marked the end of an era last Friday 5 March when Michael Fitzgerald, the station’s full-time mechanic retired after 40 years of dedicated service to the charity.

Michael, who grew up on Harbour Road in Arklow, first joined the RNLI in 1980 when he was just 16. At the time, the station had a wooden lifeboat.

It was his uncle, also Michael, a second mechanic on the crew, who inspired the then young Michael with a love for all things lifeboating.

While not eligible to officially join the crew until he was 17, Michael’s early passion shone through and to his delight, his name was registered a year early when the late coxswain Michael O’Brien made a plea on his behalf during a station inspection.

A former electrician, Michael volunteered for 19 years before being appointed Arklow RNLI’s full-time station mechanic, a position he held for the last 21 years.

His role involved a wide range of duties and evolved with time, with Michael serving on and maintaining six different classes of lifeboat including the station’s current all-weather Trent class lifeboat, the Ger Tigchlearr, which arrived in 1997. Michael was also a key member of the team when the call for help came and the lifeboat was put to sea.

‘A man of humility, integrity and passion, he has made a significant contribution to saving lives at sea off the Arklow coast’

Paying tribute to Michael this week, Peter Harty, RNLI area lifesaving manager, said: “Michael is the living embodiment of the RNLI’s values.

“A man of humility, integrity and passion, he has made a significant contribution to saving lives at sea off the Arklow coast for more than four decades and we are extremely grateful to him for his dedication and selfless service throughout that time.

“Thankfully, Michael will not be lost to us as he will remain on as a volunteer mechanic but we want to wish him every good health and happiness in the next chapter of his life.”

John Tyrell, Arklow RNLI lifeboat operations manager, added: “Over the course of four decades, Michael has worked tirelessly to ensure the operational effectiveness of our station here in Arklow through the operation, maintenance and repair of our lifeboat and its associated machinery and equipment.

“He always ensured everything was working to the highest standard and he did so with great passion and pride. Michael’s passion for his role extended to his ability to impart his knowledge to others.

“Over the years Michael has experienced all sorts of callouts and braved all sorts of weather and challenges at sea to help bring those in difficulty to safety.

“A humble man and a friend to all, Michael has always been at the core of our lifesaving team, working to keep our lifeboats and our crews safe and we are so thankful to him for that.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI have announced the appointment of Dr Christine O’Malley as lifeboat operations manager.

Dr O’Malley, who took up the post on 8 January this year after the retirement of Liam Maloney, is now responsible for all activities at the lifeboat station on the Shannon Navigation.

The retired consultant geriatrician, and regular columnist for the Medical Independent, joined Lough Derg RNLI in 2019 as a volunteer deputy launching authority — a role that she now hands over to Maloney.

In her new position, Dr O’Malley is receiving support and guidance from Owen Medland, RNLI regional lifesaving lead for Ireland; Peter Harty, RNLI area lifesaving manager for the East of Ireland, and RNLI crew assessor trainer Helena Duggan, as well as the dedicated volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI.

“Already a highly respected member of the station, Christine brings a wealth of leadership and management experience from her medical career,” Harty says.

“Christine has come onboard as we progress towards a year in which we anticipate a high volume of ‘staycationers’ enjoying Lough Derg.”

Lough Derg RNLI operates from the premises of Lough Derg Yacht Club at Dromineer, midway down the east shore of the lake in Co Tipperary.

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Since Sir William Hillary founded the RNLI in 1824, women have had a role in the service — initially working in the background by helping to launch and recover the lifeboats, fundraising for the voluntary service and supporting their husbands and sons when the lifeboat went to the rescue.

Today, women are taking their place at the forefront of the RNLI, serving as crew members, leading fundraising campaigns and of course still supporting their family who crew the lifeboats.

Arranmore RNLI off mainland Donegal was founded in 1883 and although it was only men with a knowledge of the sea who crewed the lifeboats, without the support of their female family members they would have had difficultly manning the vessels while looking after young families.

The women of Arranmore were always very resilient, from dealing with the hardships and tragedies of island living in their every day lives, to playing a vital role in supporting the lifeboat families when the crew were responding to a difficult rescue in horrendous weather conditions.

An example of the type of rescues the Arranmore RNLI were involved in was in December 1940, when they rescued 16 crew members of The Stolwyjk in the most challenging weather conditions. The crew were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals for the very memorable rescue.

Today, as in every lifeboat station throughout Ireland and the UK, Arranmore RNLI is proud to have women crew members. Lifeboat press officer Nora Flanagan was the first woman to join the Arranmore RNLI crew, and four more women have since joined the crew in this vital lifesaving service.

Nora Flanagan was the first woman to join Arranmore RNLI’s crew (Photo: RNLI/Arranmore)Nora Flanagan was the first woman to join Arranmore RNLI’s crew | Photo: RNLI/Arranmore

These women are Karen McGowan, a registered advanced nurse practitioner in Beaumont Hospital and president of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO); round-the-world sailor Sharon O’Donnell; Erin McCafferty, a student at NUI Galway; and primary school teacher Aisling Cox.

Karen McGowan joined the Arranmore RNLI crew at age 17 and continued to serve throughout her nursing training. Speaking to Karen about why she joined the RNLI, she said: “I enjoyed the adrenaline rush and I knew I wanted to train as a nurse; as a crew member on the lifeboat I gained a huge amount of experience with the excellent training the RNLI provides. Dealing with medical emergencies on a callout served me well in my student nurse training.

“I had quite a few memorable rescues during my time as a crew member but the most poignant was rescuing the crew of a sinking trawler. As soon as the crew were brought on board the Lifeboat the trawler sank very quickly. It was very hard to watch somebody’s livelihood sink beneath the waves and witness the raw emotion on the faces of both the lifeboat and the trawler crews.

“I would encourage anybody to join their local RNLI, it really helps you think outside the box and the crews are very supportive and helpful to new recruits”.

All crew members are required to serve a probationary period where they learn all the skills involved in saving lives. Learning is competence-based and crew members must prove their competency in one skill before taking on another. This training enables all volunteers, many of whom have little or no knowledge of boats or the sea, to become first-class lifesavers.

The first RNLI women’s award was to honour Grace Darling, a lighthouse-keeper’s daughter who helped rescue nine people in 1838.

Aisling Cox with her dad and fellow crew member Kieran (Photo: RNLI/Arranmore)Aisling Cox with her dad and fellow crew member Kieran | Photo: RNLI/Arranmore

Voluntary fundraising committees are an essential part of the RNLI and women are very much to the fore in raising funds to keep the lifeboats afloat.

As the charity celebrates International Women’s Day, it salutes the selflessness and dedication of the many women of the RNLI involved in saving lives at sea.

Grace Gallagher has been a member of the Arranmore fundraising committee for over 25 years. She has been honoured and recognised by the RNLI as the longest-serving member of the fundraising committee and has raised thousands of euro for the RNLI.

Grace said: “I can’t believe I’ve been fundraising for the RNLI for over 25 years. Living by the sea and with many of our families involved in the fishing industry, we rely on the lifeboat and the contribution of the public to continue with this essential voluntary service. It has been a pleasure to be part of it.”

Other remarkable women connected with Arranmore RNLI include Sadie Bonner, a former postal worker who started supporting the RNLI by collecting fundraising buckets from shops and selling badges, and who is now treasurer of the fundraising committee; and Arranmore RNLI station president Majella O’Donnell.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Page 8 of 121

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