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Ballyglass RNLI’s inshore lifeboat in northwest Mayo was requested to launch yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 20 July) by the Irish Coast Guard to assist two people on a jet ski in difficulty between Doolough and Claggan in Blacksod Bay.

The volunteer lifeboat crew, consisting of father and son Frankie and Eric Geraghty, with Matthew Togher at the helm, launched at Shore Road Belmullet within 10 minutes of the pagers going off. The lifeboat was on scene within half an hour with conditions being very favourable; flat sea, no wind and good visibility.

Malin Head Coast Guard had been contacted when a jet ski capsized, making the situation dangerous and impossible for the vessel to proceed. A rigid inflatable powerboat in the area had taken the casualties aboard until the lifeboat arrived. Once on scene the lifeboat crew assessed the situation, took the uninjured jet ski crew aboard and proceeded to bring them safely to land at Doolough.

The lifeboat was then returned to station, refuelled, washed down and ready for service again within 2 hours of the initial call-out. Ballyglass Coast Guard unit were also tasked to assist and were on shore to help locate the vessel.

Pádraig Sheeran, Ballyglass RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, said : ‘We are glad of a positive outcome today and want to remind people of the importance of always respecting the water and looking out for each other on or near the sea. Well done to all who helped out today. Ní neart go cur le chéile, as they say (we are stronger when we work together). 

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Ballyglass RNLI and Belmullet Tidal Pool Swimmers in north-west Co Mayo have won a Golden Welly for their recent fundraising efforts for the charity that saves lives at sea.

The RNLI award for Best Community Partnership Fundraiser, which is one of only six awards in all of Ireland and the UK, was announced last week at the RNLI’s virtual Mayday awards ceremony.

The volunteer lifeboat crew and the Belmullet swimmers were overjoyed to hear their deep-end dipping and donating earned them the prestigious Golden Welly.

The Golden Welly awards recognise and celebrate the fantastic work and contributions made to the RNLI’s annual Mayday fundraising campaign.

This year for the Mayday Mile, Michelle Healy and her mother Liz Healy, both on the committee of Belmullet Swim Club, came up with the idea of swimming a mile for the RNLI.

“There’s a great bunch of daily swimmers here in Belmullet, and they jumped at the chance to swim a mile to support the local lifeboat,” Michelle said. “We’re a coastal community and it's important we all pull together and support each other.”

Volunteer members of the Ballyglass RNLI crew joined in and swam in their full kit. Over five days during May, a total of 59 swimmers swam a collective distance of 74.11 miles in their Atlantic Ocean tidal pool, raising €2,016.

Pádraic Sheeran, Ballyglass RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager, said there has always been a great relationship between Ballyglass RNLI and Belmullet Swim Club with mutual respect and support at its core.

“Promoting water safety and saving lives at sea are common goals of the RNLI and the swim group and we’ve always worked well together.

“We are very thankful to Liz, Michelle and the group of swimmers and the great work they do and we’re delighted to accept an award that acknowledges and celebrates that effort. The funds raised will now help our volunteers as they continue to save lives at sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

In Co Mayo, Ballyglass RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launched to assist a fishing vessel in Broadhaven Bay in the station’s first callout of 2021.

At 12.30pm yesterday (Friday 2 April) the Irish Coast Guard requested the volunteer crew to assist a 35ft fishing vessel that had ran aground in the channel close to Belmullet docks and had sent a Mayday emergency distress signal.

Adhering to all COVID-19 procedures and guidelines, the inshore lifeboat — with Frankie Geraghty at the helm — launched immediately and was on scene within minutes, securing the casualty vessel and transferring its sole occupant safely ashore.

Pádraig Sheeran, volunteer lifeboat operations manager at Ballyglass RNLI, commended all involved on the expediency of the response.

“The RNLI and and the coastguard are always ready to assist but we ask the public to always put safety first, to always have a means of communication when on or near the water, and to always respect the water,” he said.

Earlier this week the RNLI and Irish Coast Guard issued a joint appeal to the public to heed safety advice when on or near the water over the Easter weekend and beyond, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

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Ballyglass RNLI rescued two fishermen whose boat got into difficulty and ran adrift in Broadhaven Bay on Thursday afternoon (20 June).

The station’s all-weather volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch and locate the sea anglers drifting into danger in Broadhaven Bay after their RIB suffered engine failure.

After the anglers calling for assistance on VHF, the lifeboat was requested to launch by Malin Head Coast Guard at 4pm and was on scene within minutes, with six crew aboard.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo and Ballyglass Coast Guard Unit were also tasked and put on standby in the area, while a local fishing vessel assisted in the search and location of the small craft.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew assessed the situation and deemed it necessary to launch its smaller onboard inflatable daughter boat, as the casualty vessel had drifted into shallow water.

The two anglers were not in need of medical assistance and were safely transferred to the lifeboat. The casualty craft was securely towed to Ballyglass pier.

Conditions were fair at the time with a fresh Force 4 wind and good visibility.

Speaking following the callout, Ballyglass RNLI coxswain James Mangan said: “I commend the two anglers for contacting emergency services as soon as they got into difficulty and for having VHF radio and wearing lifejackets.

“The situation could have been more serious had they not followed these precautions.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Ten volunteer lifeboat crew from Ballyglass RNLI, in conjunction with Belmullet Cycling Club, will undertake a 150km cycle from Sligo Bay RNLI in Rosses Point to Ballyglass RNLI in Belmullet on Saturday 27 April.

A total of 130 cyclists from all over Ireland are registered to take part in the Waves-2-Wheels fundraiser which will see proceeds raised go to Ballyglass RNLI.

Allen Murray, Ballyglass RNLI station mechanic and Waves-2-Wheels chairperson, said he is overwhelmed by the hard work and dedication of all involved in getting the charity cycle from the rolling waves to the rolling road, and hopes it will be a safe and successful event.

“The idea was born last autumn when members of the lifeboat crew and the cycling club were discussing ways they could work together to raise funds in the locality,” Murray said.

“A charity cycle from a neighbouring lifeboat station to Ballyglass was suggested and agreed upon almost instantly. From there the hard work of organising the event and training began.

“A large number of the crew came on board to swap the sea for the saddle to raise much needed funds to maintain the high standard of training and equipment needed by Ballyglass RNLI volunteers to save lives at sea.”

Lifeboat coxswain and Waves-2-Wheels secretary James Mangan explained how important it is to raise awareness and funds for our lifeboats.

“Having two lifeboats working out of two locations both here at Ballyglass (all-weather lifeboat) and at Belmullet (inshore lifeboat) involves a lot of training and maintenance to ensure our volunteers and boats are ready 24/7 for whatever they may face when the pagers call them to sea.

“We are very lucky here in Mayo to have such wonderful supporters and sponsors and are very grateful to all who help us out in any way.

“When our volunteers launch to assist those in trouble at sea they know that they have the best of training and equipment to help bring them home safely. The crew kit alone costs between €1,000-€2,000, including lifejacket, and this gives the crew confidence to face various conditions and weathers, night or day.”

The RNLI’s two lifeboat stations in Mayo at Achill Island and Ballyglass launched 40 times in 2018 bringing 25 people to safety.

These rescues are only possible because of the donations made to the charity by supporters. And Waves-2-Wheels is currently accepting donations online ahead of the big ride in nine days’ time.

The cycle begins at Rosses point at 9am on Saturday 27 April, with the cyclists travelling through Easkey, Enniscrone, Ballina, Crossmolina and arriving at Belmullet’s inshore lifeboat station after 4pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Ballyglass RNLI responded to two back to back call-outs today, first to bring an injured fisherman to safety, and then to assist a 10m fishing vessel that had broken down off the Mayo coast.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat this morning (Tuesday 19 March) to go to the aid of a fishing vessel with an injured crew member, 18 miles east of Ballyglass.

The lifeboat was requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard at 9.34am this morning to the boat which had three people onboard.

Weather conditions were overcast at the time with a west to southwest wind, force 4 to 5 and a westerly sea swell of two metres.

The all-weather lifeboat under Coxswain James Mangan with six crew onboard, launched immediately and was on scene approximately 40 minutes later. The crew assessed the casualty before transferring him safely from the vessel to the lifeboat and then administering casualty care. The lifeboat proceeded onwards to Ballyglass where the crew transferred the casualty into the care of a waiting ambulance. Ballyglass Coast Guard Unit was on standby at the pier. The fisherman was subsequently brought to Mayo General Hospital for further treatment.

Having arrived back at the station shortly after 11am, Ballyglass RNLI was requested to launch for a second time some two hours later, this time at the request of the Irish Coast Guard, to go to the aid of a 10m fishing boat with three people onboard, that had broken down 16 miles north of Downpatrick Head.

The lifeboat immediately launched again under Coxswain James Mangan with four crew onboard. Weather conditions freshened this afternoon to a west to southwest wind Force 5 wind and a 2.5- 3m swell. Once on scene, the lifeboat crew began to work with the fishermen to establish a towline.

The lifeboat then began the slow tow back to Ballyglass RNLI where they are expected to arrive later this evening.

Speaking after a long day at sea for the volunteer crew, Padraig Sheeran, Ballyglass RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘Today has been a busy one for the lifeboat station with the first two call-outs of the year happening straight after each other.

‘We want to extend our best wishes to the injured fisherman for a speedy recovery and wish the crew of both fishing boats well.

I would like also like to thank and commend our lifeboat crew for their dedication and professionalism in responding to these back to back call outs today. It is something they train for and are prepared to do but days like today do highlight their selfless willingness and commitment.’

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Ballyglass RNLI has this afternoon (Monday 25 June) come to the aid of a lone sailor whose 10m yacht got into difficulty off the Mayo coast.  The volunteer lifeboat crew was requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 12.37pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard.

The lifeboat under Coxswain James Mangan and with six crew onboard launched immediately and made its way to the scene some five miles north of Ballyglass Lighthouse.

Weather conditions at the time were described as good with calm waters and the sun shining.

Once on scene, the crew observed that yacht had fouled its propeller. The sailor had entered the water in an attempt to free the propeller but was unsuccessful and called for assistance.

On arrival, the crew assessed that the sailor was safe and well before working to detangle the rope.

The lifeboat crew launched their smaller inflatable daughter Y boat to access the yacht and free the rope from the propeller. A towline was subsequently secured and the lifeboat brought the yacht safely back to Ballyglass Harbour.

Speaking following the call out, Ballyglass RNLI mechanic Allen Murray said: ‘As the summer holidays approach and we continue to enjoy a period of hot weather, we would like to remind everyone to enjoy it but also to respect the water.

‘Always wear a lifejacket and always carry a means of communication. Let someone ashore know when you are leaving, where you are going and when you are due back. Check the weather forecast and tide times. Learn how to start, run and maintain your engine and always carry tools and spares. Should you get into difficulty, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#RNLI - Ballyglass RNLI’s lifeboat crew had an unusual callout on Monday evening (14 May) when they were launched to recover a runaway barge that had drifted to the Mayo coast across the Atlantic from Canada more than 3,000km away.

The large floating barge had broken from its moorings in Labrador in north-east Canada last November, and after six months at sea was spotted and reported by a passing fishing vessel earlier on Monday.

Ballyglass RNLI received the call to launch last night at 7.20pm. On arriving on scene, the lifeboat crew found a steel barge measuring 26 metres by 16 metres, which was unsecured and floating.

The lifeboat crew established a tow and brought the barge back to Ballyglass Harbour.

However, with no room to berth such a large barge safely, it was put on the lifeboat mooring before a more permanent solution could be found. The crew were not stood down until 2am this morning.

All in all, it took the lifeboat crew seven hours to secure the barge and and bring it safely to Ballyglass.

Commenting on the shout, Ballyglass RNLI lifeboat operations manager Padraic Sheeran said: “We were not expecting this type of callout at all. You do hear of vessels and craft breaking free of moorings but it’s unusual to have one drift thousands of kilometres and have to be rescued by lifeboat.

“On a serious note though, it represented a major navigational danger to any vessel that it collided with and it was a relief to have it safely recovered.”

The callout will remind Afloat.ie readers of the houseboat that drifted from Newfoundland to the Mayo coast in November 2016.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Coastguard - Coastguard teams from Achill and Ballyglass were involved in the recovery of the body of a young man from a popular tourism spot on the Mayo coast, as Independent.ie reports.

Achill Coast Guard's cliff rescue unit were called into action to recover the suspected faller from the 65ft blowhole at Dun na mBó after reports of a missing person in the area.

A spokesperson for Achill Coast Guard described the almost five-hour operation as "extremely dangerous, challenging and technically difficult" as the casualty was located in a cave within the blowhole, with sea water rushing in from the base.

Published in Coastguard

#RNLI - Alex Ellis-Roswell recently walked into Mayo without any fanfare but with the sole aim to continue his marathon walk to raise funds for the RNLI, a charity close to his heart.

The 23-year-old Kent native is well on his way to smashing a £20,000 (€25,000) fundraising target which will see vital funds raised for the lifeboats.

When he set out 649 days ago, Ellis-Roswell planned to walk along the British coastline only, but he changed his mind and boarded a ferry to Belfast last year to add the beautiful Irish coastline to his journey.

When he finishes he will have walked the entire length of the Irish and UK coasts.

Ellis-Roswell has had many adventures along the way with strangers opening their doors to him and providing food and company for him along the way. Their kindness has seen him almost reach his target, which he now plans to exceed.

The weather had not been kind along the way, and he has pitched his tent in some stunning but remote places with the wind and the rain beating down on him. He has also battled with the toll the epic walk has taken on both his knees.

Starting his walk in Ireland at Belfast last year, he came down along the east coast before rounding the southern coastline and trekking along the Cork and Kerry peninsulas, clocking up hundreds of kilometres.

He has now crossed the border into Mayo and the sun has come out to match the hospitality of the locals to make it a special stop on his journey. Two important places for him to call in to visit have been the Achill and Ballyglass RNLI lifeboat stations, where he was made feel very welcome.

Commenting on the incredible fundraising initiative when Ellis-Roswell stopped by to visit the lifeboat crew and fundraisers with Ballyglass RNLI, the station’s volunteer lifeboat press officer Agatha Hunt said: "We were honoured to welcome Alex to our door and to hear about his adventures so far. It is incredible to think that a young man from across the water would do this for a charity which is very close to all of us here.

"Every lifeboat station and volunteer shares a common goal to save lives and help those in difficulty but it is very touching to see someone so young doing this to help in our work. I know his father, who also had great affection, for the RNLI would have been very proud of him."

Huge thanks are also due to the Broadhaven Bay Hotel, Léim Siar B&B Blacksod, Western Strand Hotel and the Kilcummin Lodge B&B who supported the young man in his walk by providing accommodation during his visit.

If people wish donate to Alex Ellis-Roswell they can do so via his online fundraising page. He is also cataloguing his journey on social media and can be followed on Facebook or Twitter.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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RORC Fastnet Race

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge.

For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between.

The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish for 2021 is in Cherbourg via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Cherbourg.

Fastnet Race - FAQs

The 49th edition of the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, UK on Sunday 8th August 2021.

The next two editions of the race in 2021 and 2023 will finish in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin at the head of the Normandy peninsula, France

Over 300. A record fleet is once again anticipated for the world's largest offshore yacht race.

The international fleet attracts both enthusiastic amateur, the seasoned offshore racer, as well as out-and-out professionals from all corners of the world.

Boats of all shapes, sizes and age take part in this historic race, from 9m-34m (30-110ft) – and everything in between.

The Fastnet Race multihull course record is: 1 day 4 hours 2 minutes and 26 seconds (2019, Ultim Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier)

The Fastnet Race monohull course record is: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing).

David and Peter Askew's American VO70 Wizard won the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race, claiming the Fastnet Challenge Cup for 1st in IRC Overall.

Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001.

The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result.

The winner of the first Fastnet Race was the former pilot cutter Jolie Brise, a boat that is still sailing today.

Cork sailor Henry P F Donegan (1870-1940), who gave his total support for the Fastnet Race from its inception in 1925 and competed in the inaugural race in his 43ft cutter Gull from Cork.

Ireland has won the Fastnet Race twice. In 1987 the Dubois 40 Irish Independent won the Fastnet Race overall for the first time and then in 2007 – all of twenty years after Irish Independent’s win – Ireland secured the overall win again this time thanks to Ger O’Rourke’s Cookson 50 Chieftain from the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland in Kilrush.

©Afloat 2020

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Fastnet Race 2023 Date

The 2023 50th Rolex Fastnet Race will start on Saturday, 22nd July 2023

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At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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