Displaying items by tag: RNLI
Answering what was the Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team’s third shout of the day yesterday (Sat 20th), after a telephone call from former Lifeboat Operations Manager Kevin Byers, a volunteer RNLI crew was tasked with rescuing three kayakers in Ballyholme Bay in the vicinity of Ballymacormick Point.
RNLI said that although well equipped with wetsuits and buoyancy jackets, the youngsters had not taken into account the difficulty of paddling against an offshore breeze. The wind was forecast around 40 mph from the South.
An eyewitness said that they could see the kayakers were having difficulty returning to shore in the very strong offshore wind and struggling to make even painstakingly slow progress, and when one of them appeared to stop for a rest, they were blown back very quickly again. She also noticed that the temperature was dropping as the wind and cloud cover increased.
Fortunately, the RNLI were able to return the three teenagers safely to the beach and hand them over to the Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team.
RNLI warn that “ Kayaks and paddleboards are so light and prone to windage that fighting against an offshore breeze can be exhausting and you can quickly find yourself in difficulty. Even with the right safety equipment you can tire quickly”. They advise that it is important to remember these simple rules before you take to the water:
- Check the conditions - water and wind
- Assess your competence if things go wrong
- Make sure you have the right safety gear
- Have some means of calling for help
- Make sure you know how to signal for help if your phone or radio is out of battery or range
And to Parents, “if you are buying a paddleboard or kayak for your child, INSIST that they buy and wear the right safety gear - a LIFEjacket is called that for a reason. And if you are new to the sport, get some training.
Both Portrush RNLI lifeboats were requested to launch by HM Coastguard yesterday afternoon (Saturday 20 June) to reports of person on an inflatable paddleboard in difficulty in the sea just off Portstewart on Northern Ireland’s North Coast.
The inshore lifeboat was launched at 1.23pm initially into a slight sea swell with an offshore wind and made their way to Portstewart, followed by the all-weather lifeboat 10 minutes later.
The inshore crew arrived on scene at 1.35pm and successfully recovered the casualty who was 200 metres from shore. The crew found that the casualty had been blown out to sea, had fallen off their board and been unable to get back on.
Both casualty and their board were swiftly returned to shore where they were handed over to the care of the coastguard and NI Ambulance Service who had been called as a precaution. The all-weather lifeboat was stood down.
Ivor Paul, deputy launching authority at Portrush RNLI, said: “We would urge people not to bring inflatables to the coast as it is so easy to get caught by the wind and within seconds you can suddenly be in danger. If in doubt talk, to the lifeguards and check out the RNLI and coastguard websites for guidance and advice.”
Courtmacsherry RNLI’s lifeboat volunteers were called out at 3.50pm yesterday afternoon (Saturday 20 June) to go to the aid of a lone windsurfer who had got into difficulty just offshore of Harbour View in Courtmacsherry Bay.
The alarm was raised by concerned persons on shore that the surfer was unable to return to his base as the winds were escalating.
While the winds were beginning to blow a gale off the South West Coast, both the Trent class lifeboat and the station’s inshore lifeboat were launched under coxswain Mark Gannon and a combined crew of nine volunteers.
After conducting a thorough search of the coastline from Burren Pier to Coolmain Strand, the windsurfer was finally located as he got ashore by himself downstream of Harbour View. The crew of the inshore lifeboat approached to confrm his status and found he was tired but uninjured.
Lifeboat operations manager Brian O’Dwyer thanked all the lifeboat crew members for the quick response and carrying out the search operation in a very professional fashion.
He reiterated that it is always best to raise the alarm quickly in the event of a difficulty being spotted from shore by dialling 999 or 112 and asking specifically for the coastguard.
Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat assisted two people on a 21ft motorboat suffering engine failure in severe weather conditions.
At 5.02 pm today, June 20, Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI to go to the assistance of two people on a 21ft motorboat that had suffered engine failure near the Corakeens Islands. At 5.15 pm the lifeboat launched with volunteer helm Owen Cavanagh, volunteer crew Keith Brennan, Jimmy Gund Kjell and Joe O’Donoghue on board. The wind was southerly, Force 7 and gusting. Visibility was fair, with driving rain and frequent squalls.
A vessel in the vicinity had taken the motorboat under tow, but under the severe weather conditions, the vessel being towed was driven onto rocks by the entrance to Dromaan Harbour on the County Clare shore. The lifeboat arrived on scene at 5.20 pm. Once the RNLI volunteers established that the casualties were safe and unharmed, they took the motor vessel off the rocks and into Dromaan, the closest safe harbour, where it was tied alongside at 6.20 pm.
The two casualties, wearing face masks and gloves, were taken by the lifeboat back to Dromineer. The vessel that had provided assistance made its own way to the public harbour at Dromineer.
Owen Cavanagh, volunteer helm at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat owners to ‘ensure your engines are fully serviced and fuel is clean before returning to the water for the summer season’. He says ‘respect the water, and remember, always check the weather forecast before going afloat'.
The Lifeboat returned to station and was ready for service once more at 6.54pm
An elderly couple had a narrow escape when their car left the road and tumbled over rocks towards the sea at Galway’s popular Blackrock diving tower on Wednesday evening.
Emergency services including the Galway Fire and Ambulance Service, Gardai, Irish Coastguard helicopter and RNLI lifeboat volunteers were alerted after the Nissan Almera reversed over the pavement at Salthill promenade and fell about six metres (20 ft) down towards the beach.
The incident occurred at around 5 pm, just an hour after high tide, but the car did not hit the water. Several units of Galway Fire Brigade managed to free the elderly couple from the car on the rock armour.
The Irish Coast Guard helicopter which was en route from Shannon was stood down when it appeared that the vehicle was not in danger of hitting the water.
The couple was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway. It is understood that their injuries are not life-threatening.
Sgt Vincent Jennings of Salthill Garda Station said that it was a “miracle” that there were no fatalities or injuries.
“The Prom has been very busy, and this was just an hour after high tide,” Sgt Jennings said. He said onlookers gave several rounds of applause when the couple were stretchered up to the ambulance by paramedic staff.
Labour councillor Niall MacNelis, who was leaving a Galway City Council meeting in Leisureland, Salthill just after the incident happened, paid tribute to the Garda and emergency personnel.
“If it had been a warm summer’s evening, this could have been a very serious incident, and we are all glad that the couple survived,” he said.
Efforts were being made by the fire brigade to remove the vehicle from the rocks. Traffic diversions were put in place for several hours in Galway this evening.
The four teenagers and an adult had managed to get on top of a nearby pontoon on the River Slaney between Ferrycarrig Bridge and Killurin Bridge, where they then raised the alarm with the Irish Coast Guard.
Wexford RNLI volunteers were paged just before 3pm and launched the inshore lifeboat with three crew on board within 12 minutes.
Once on scene before 3.30pm, the crew took the four teenagers on board the lifeboat and brought them safely ashore at Killurin.
The lifeboat then returned to the scene for the adult and jet ski. Conditions at the time were good with no swell and a falling tide.
Speaking following the callout, Wexford RNLI helm Damien Foley said: “Everyone was wearing lifejackets and did the right thing by calling for help to the coastguard when they could.”
The volunteer crew of Damien Foley, Ger Doran and David Marskell, all of who were working at the time, were back at Wexford Lifeboat Station at 4.30pm. It was also the first rescue for volunteer crew member David Marskell.
Aran Islands lifeboat coxswain Declan Brannigan said: “Our volunteers didn't hesitate to answer both calls today and we would like to wish both women a speedy recovery.”
Bangor's lifeboat rescued four people aboard a motorboat from Carrickfergus after the boat broke down off Whitehead, and the group risked drifting into a shipping lane in Belfast Lough in fading light.
A volunteer crew from Bangor RNLI was requested by Belfast Coastguard just after 10pm on Saturday night last (13 June) to attend the broken down motorboat just off Whitehead.
In calm conditions and only light winds, there was no immediate danger, but there was a possibility of the boat drifting into the shipping lane used by the Belfast to Cairnryan ferry.
In fading light, helm Kyle Marshall and the crew were able to reach the craft quickly and, having assessed the situation, attached a tow rope and towed them back to Carrickfergus Marina.
By the time they reached the marina, the light had all but gone.
Speaking following the callout, Marshall said: “We were delighted to be able to help these people and return them safely to the marina.
“We would ask everyone returning to the water after lockdown to ensure their vessel has been well maintained, and they have all the appropriate safety gear on board.”
Boat owner Alan McIlroy was effusive in his praise of the Bangor crew: “These guys are worth their weight in gold, and after realising we had a problem, we were delighted to see them arrive. They were totally professional, and very skilled.”
Helmed by Liam Keogh, The lifeboat launched just before 1pm to the 20ft fishing vessel, 2km south east of Youghal Harbour near the Black Ball buoy, in fairly calm sea conditions.
Once the fishing boat was located, one crew member boarded, following all Covid-19 guidelines and procedures, and worked to quickly establish a tow.
The fishing vessel was then safely towed back to its mooring in Ferrypoint and the lifeboat returned to the station by 1.40pm.
Speaking after the callout, Lou Stepney, Youghal RNLI’s volunteer press officer, said: “Mechanical failure is one of the main reasons for RNLI callouts.
“Situations can change very quickly at sea. We advise anyone out on the water to be prepared for an emergency by always wearing a lifejacket, checking your equipment before you set off and always to carry a means of calling for help, call 112/999 and ask for the coastguard.”
Kevin’s three-year venture started in 2016 and was spurred by his love of kayaking.
“After over 35 years of kayaking, looming large in front of me was my own personal edge,” he explains of his decision to embark on the solo circumnavigation.
“I had been operating as a volunteer kayak instructor with Skerries Sea Scouts for seven years. Being inspired by the courage of the many junior paddlers within their ranks, I decided it was high time I ventured outside my own comfort zone as this mission materialised out of the faintest whisper of a long-held dream I had thought about for years.”
During the planning of the trip, Kevin said he was aware of the work done by volunteers at his local RNLI station in Skerries, and Medicins Sans Frontiers in the Mediterranean.
“I decided to put a charity element to my venture. Monies raised were split down the middle and shared.
“My local involvement with The Frosties, a year-round sea swim group, gave me first-hand knowledge of the very critical service the RNLI offers to all water users. We have availed of their service on a few occasions.
“I am not alone in complimenting their non-judgemental approach to any rescue they carry out. It is wonderful to give something back to this great organisation.’
Kevin’s circumnavigation was all the more remarkable in that he achieved it in his spare time, committing to the adventure for almost three years.
“I would kayak a stretch over a few days, camping as I went, depositing my kayak with a helpful soul, whilst returning home to family and work for a period.
“When the next favourable weather window opened coincident with my time off work, I would return to my boat continuing along the coast, all the while eating away at the total distance of 1,750 km to put me back into Skerries where I started.”
First circumnavigated in 1978 by a three-man team, around 100 have now completed the trip, mostly in small groups.
“Only 25 of these have been solo. Mick O’Meara, from Waterford, holds the record at 23 days, and was my own personal inspiration for the trip.”
Kevin says he wasn’t sure he could “stomach” the challenge due to his propensity for sea sickness, but the story of Mick O’Meara kept his spirits up.
“Thankfully I was graced with good weather, great support and my body held out so that after three summers, my kayak found itself being slid back onto its rack after a 903-day absence.”
Kevin recalled of his achievement: “I camped, B&Bed, was put up by strangers, slept in adventure centres, friends’ houses and hostels. I used planes, trains and automobiles to get to and from the remotest corners of this island to complete my paddling project.
“Once, in fact, I walked two-and-a-half kilometres on the Hook Peninsula to get to my B&B from the beach I landed on, back in November 2017. The proprietor, who very kindly reopened his B&B for me, stood shocked when I rolled my 18ft long kayak up his driveway rather than atop my car.”
Gerry Canning, volunteer lifeboat press officer for Skerries RNLI, commended Kevin for his fundraising efforts on behalf of the station.
“This was a phenomenal effort with an amazing amount raised for Skerries RNLI and we want to say a huge thank you to Kevin. With so many fundraising events cancelled this year, donations like this are even more crucial.
“We can really feel Kevin’s pride for what he has achieved and his enthusiasm for helping the charities he donated to. These funds are very much appreciated by all here at Skerries and will help us to continue to save lives at sea.”
A new book providing a collection of first-hand accounts of some of the most dramatic rescues carried out by RNLI lifesavers around Ireland and the UK over the past 20 years, features an incredible feat of bravery by a Cork lifeboat crew. Told in the words of Castletownbere RNLI Coxswain Dean Hegarty, it provides a first-hand account of the dramatic rescue of a fishing crew in storm force conditions after their vessel lost all power at the harbour entrance of Castletownbere in West Cork. Six lives were saved that night and the Coxswain is set to receive a medal for gallantry, and the crew and launching authority, letters of thanks from the Institution. The book Surviving the Storms goes on sale today (Thursday 11 June) with royalties from all sales supporting the lifesaving charity.
Surviving the Storms features 11 stories of extraordinary courage and compassion at sea, providing a rare insight into the life-or-death decisions the RNLI have to make when battling the forces of nature and saving lives.
The Castletownbere RNLI rescue from 2018 is included with those of a Northern Ireland lifeboat mechanic who swam into a cave to rescue two teenage boys when they became trapped with a rising tide in dangerous conditions and lifeguards in Cornwall saving the lives of people, moments away from drowning. This book has an abundance of drama told from the unique perspective of the RNLI lifesavers, as well as those they rescue.
In an extract from the book Dean Hegarty, who at 24-years old had been on the lifeboat crew for five years and was a recently appointed Coxswain on his second callout in charge, explains what he saw when he and his lifeboat crew came on scene.
‘Within 10 minutes of the original mayday call, we were on the scene. What I saw when we arrived, I can’t lie; It almost gave me a heart attack. The way the tide was going out and the wind was coming in, it was churning the sea up and creating a big, watery explosion. There were huge swells reaching six metres, the height of a two-storey house, tossing the fishing boat around like a rag doll and pushing her ever closer to the sixty-metre cliffs to the west of the harbour mouth. The gales were now peaking at storm force 11. My heart started to race as I watched waves crashing up against the cliffs, with the vessel only 30 or so metres away from the rocky shoreline.’
RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: ‘Surviving the Storms is a wonderful account of selflessness and bravery although there is no book big enough to do justice to every RNLI rescue and rescuer. We have hundreds of lifeboat stations and thousands of crew members and lifeguards all dedicated to saving lives. Between them, they’ve helped so many people survive the storms and I’m proud of every one of them.’