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Displaying items by tag: Portaferry

A former lifeboat crew member who joined the volunteer team at Portaferry RNLI on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland in 1980 when she was just 17 has recently returned to her hometown, where she has now taken up the reins as Lifeboat Operations Manager, a position her father held when she first joined.

Heather Kennedy officially took up the Lifeboat Operations Manager position on 12 October but says it was far from her mind when she moved back to Portaferry last November. She succeeds outgoing Lifeboat Operations Manager Philip Johnston, who led the team for almost five years, having also served for many years as a Deputy Launching Authority and a crew member.

Heather is also involved with the Ruffian 23 sailing class that celebrated its 50th anniversary in Portaferry this summer.

‘The lifeboat was only here a year when I became a crew member at 17 in 1980,’ Heather explains. ‘My dad Billy Brown was the Honorary Secretary as it was known then, and he was the main reason I got involved. I was mad keen to join the crew and the D class lifeboat which eventually moved to the Atlantic 21 class. I trained and passed out as a helm in Cowes but also qualified as a nurse during the same period so after 12 years on the crew, I moved to England for work.’

While sailing always featured in Heather’s life, it wasn’t until she moved home to Portaferry a year ago, that she got involved with the RNLI again: ‘I thought I could quietly come back and volunteer as shore crew which I did for the first few months, but then other people had other ideas for me when the vacancy for Lifeboat Operations Manager came up.’

As for following in her father’s footsteps in becoming the Lifeboat Operations Manager, Heather says taking on the role is an honour: ‘It is a real privilege to be the Lifeboat Operations Manager for a station and I know that when I think of all the Lifeboat Operations Managers that have gone before me and the respect that I have for them. I know I have big boots to fill and that there are expectations when our safe and reliable lifeboat is requested to launch when the time arises.’

Heather has seen significant changes since her time as a crew member and has a variety of new responsibilities.

‘So much has changed since I was a crew member here in the eighties. We now have an Atlantic 85 class lifeboat, all the crew have their individual personal protective equipment (PPE) and there have been so many advancements in technology and equipment, all changes in the good and right way.

‘There has been a lot to get my head around, including everything relating to the crew’s training and the technical and digital side of things, but what I have found so far is that everybody is falling over themselves to help me. I have also had great support from people in the sailing club, the community, and my family. Everyone at the station, including our 25-strong team of lifeboat and shore crew, have been very welcoming, friendly, and supportive, and I have got great help and advice from my fellow launching authorities, including John Murray who was a crew member at the same time as me.’

Wishing her well in the role, Phillip Johnston, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said: ‘Heather is helping the RNLI to save lives at sea by carrying out the day-to-day management of the lifeboat station at Portaferry. I want to thank and commend her for the work she has done in her short time in the role to date to authorise the launch of the lifeboat, to provide leadership to the operations team and to ensure that all operational activities are carried out to maintain the lifeboat and all associated equipment. It is a busy volunteer role that I hope she continues to enjoy and finds rewarding as she supports the team around her.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portaferry RNLI came to the aid of two people on Saturday evening (21 October) after they got cut off by the tide at Rough Island at the northern end of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 5.25pm at the request of Belfast Coastguard.

Helmed by Dave Fisher and with crew members Molly Crowe, Rosslyn Watret and George Toma onboard, the lifeboat launched immediately and made its way to the scene at Rough Island, which has a causeway that covers a period of 2-3 hours before high tide.

Weather conditions at the time were good with a Force 3-4 wind and a slight sea state.

Once on scene, the crew observed that the man and woman were both safe and well before taking them onboard the lifeboat and bringing them safely back to shore.

Speaking following the call-out, Heather Kennedy, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “We were delighted to be able to assist both people safely back to shore.

“We would remind anyone planning a walk to always check weather and tide time signage before venturing out as it can be easy to get caught out by the incoming tide at high water.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The volunteer crew from Portaferry RNLI were requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard shortly before 5pm on Friday (18 August) to assist a sailing yacht in difficulty.

The 28ft yacht with two adults and a child on board had run into trouble off Ardglass on the coast of Co Down in Northern Ireland.

The occupants had found it difficult to make way against the rough weather conditions as Storm Betty approached, and with their engine running low on fuel they radioed the coastguard for assistance.

Under the command of coxswain Gerry McConkey, the all-weather lifeboat The Leonard Kent from Newcastle RNLI launched at 5.40pm to assist Portaferry RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, if required.

Conditions were difficult with an easterly to south-easterly wind and rough waves between two-and-a-half and three-and-a-half metres.

Having first ensured that the three people on board were not in need of any immediate assistance themselves, the lifeboat helm assessed the situation and made the decision that taking the vessel under tow was the safety way to assist the casualties.

The yacht was taken under tow to the nearest safe and suitable port, which was Ardglass Marina, by the Portaferry lifeboat.

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Portaferry RNLI came to the aid of kayakers who got into difficulty near Kilard Point late yesterday afternoon (Monday, 7 November).

Portaferry RNLI’s volunteer crew launched their inshore Atlantic 85 class lifeboat promptly at 2.20 pm and made their way to Kilard Point in Strangford Lough. The crew launched in cloudy weather conditions with good visibility, a Force Six south-westerly wind direction and a moderate sea state.

When on scene at 2.30 pm the crew searched the Kilcief shoreline for two kayakers reported to be in one inflatable kayak. After an update from HM Coastguard, the lifeboat crew commenced a search one mile east of St. Patrick’s Rock, Strangford Lough, where they faced weather conditions of a Force 8-10. Whilst completing the search, the crew spotted the two kayakers located 50 yards off the fairway buoy.

The two men who were safe and well were taken onboard the lifeboat and the inflatable kayak was left on scene due to the adverse conditions. The lifeboat crew then took the kayakers to Strangford pontoon where they were transferred into the care of the NI Ambulance service.

Commenting on the call out, Portaferry RNLI Helm Dave Fisher said: ‘Despite the adverse weather conditions on scene, the quick actions by the lifeboat crew resulted in a favourable outcome. Thankfully the two kayakers were returned to shore with no injuries. Their ability to raise the alarm to the Coastguard via a mobile device was the right choice to make’.

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 A group of 18 volunteers from Portaferry RNLI in Northern Ireland have been rewarded and recognised for their dedication to saving lives at sea.

At a special meal held in the Co Down coastal town on Friday 9 September, two crew members received a commendation letter from the RNLI for their role in a callout two years ago.

Two volunteers received long-service awards from the charity, while 13 volunteers were presented with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal.

Meanwhile, Patricia Browne was recognised for receiving a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her 42 years of service.

Volunteer crew members Fergal Glynn and Ian Sands were recognised for their dedication and service during a multi-agency search and exceptional delivery of casualty care rescue response two years ago, when they worked to recover a casualty from the water who was sadly later pronounced deceased.

Long-service awards were presented to Jeremy Rogers for 26 years and Simon Rogers for 23 years. During their service at Portaferry RNLI, they served as inshore lifeboat crew and helmsmen, and Simon also acted as lifeboat operations manager. Simon and Jeremy rescued 108 lives between them during their years of service.

As a token of thanks, 13 volunteers from Portaferry RNLI — Chris Adair, Sinead Breen, Colin Conway, Jordan Conway, Graham Edgar, Simon Exley, Tory Killen, Fiona Magee, John Murray, Terence O’Neill, Paddy Ritchie, Mark Stevenson and George Toma — were among the 4,500 volunteers and frontline staff to be awarded a special commemorative Platinum Jubilee medal in recognition of the 65,886 lives the RNLI has saved during the Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year-reign. The commemorative medal was created to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

In June, volunteer Patricia Browne was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her 42 years of service to the RNLI. First joining the institution in 1979 at Portaferry RNLI, shortly before the town’s lifeboat station was officially established in 1980, Patricia has held the position of chair of the Portaferry Fundraising Branch for 27 years. Under her leadership, the Portaferry Fundraising Branch has raised over £221,000 for the RNLI in the last 10 years.

Speaking at the event last month, Portaferry RNLI’s current lifeboat operations manager Philip Johnston said: “As a station team, we are truly delighted and appreciative of the recognition by the charity and others, of our volunteer work in saving lives at sea.

“It has been a challenging few years for everyone with the pandemic so it is really wonderful that we can gather as a team tonight and reward those who have been recognised for their efforts. Their achievements are testament to their selflessness and dependability over the years and I wish to congratulate and thank them and the wider station team here in Portaferry who work tirelessly to deliver our essential lifesaving service.”

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Portaferry RNLI in Northern Ireland rescued a male after he drifted more than a mile out to sea while holding on to the edge of a 15ft cabin cruiser on Tuesday afternoon (23 August).

The lifeboat crew were launched to reports of a person in the water after the alarm was raised by a local woman at Kilcief Gaelic park when she heard calls for help and contacted Belfast Coastguard.

Portaferry’s volunteer crew launched the inshore lifeboat promptly at 3.40pm and made their way to Rock Angus in Strangford Lough.

When on scene at 3.45pm, the lifeboat crew faced Force 4 conditions with a choppy sea state but excellent visibility.

The lifeboat crew located the casualty in the water and clinging to the cabin cruiser at the bar bouy at the start of Strangford Lough.

They immediately set about bringing the casualty onboard the lifeboat while checking him over for any injuries. The crew then proceeded back to Strangford Harbour and transferred the casualty into the care of his family and Portaferry Coastguard rescue team.

Following this, the lifeboat headed back to station to pick up another crew member and the salvage pump in case the casualty boat was taking on water.

When on scene again with the cabin cruiser, the crew checked the area over for any debris and then recovered the boat and established a tow to Strangford Harbour.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry lifeboat press officer Jordan Conway said: “We were glad to rescue the casualty this afternoon and bring him to safety. The member of the public did the right thing by contacting the coastguard when she heard the calls for help.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI in Northern Ireland was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard to reports of a fishing boat aground at St John’s Point early on Friday morning (5 August).

The volunteer crew’s pagers sounded at 6.24am and they made their way to St John’s point at Ardglass, where they arrived just before 7am and were joined by Newcastle RNLI with their all-weather and inshore lifeboats.

They found the 16m fishing boat, with a crew of four, was aground on a rocky coastline off St John’s Point.

Portaferry’s inshore lifeboat crew checked the fishing boat for damage before taking the four male adults onboard the lifeboat and bringing them to safety at Ardglass Marina.

Once on land, the casualties were transferred into the care of Newcastle Coastguard Rescue Team.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Chris Adair said: “This was an early morning callout for our crew and thankfully it had a successful outcome.

“We also wish to express our thanks to our colleagues in Newcastle RNLI who launched both their lifeboats and travelled to the scene. We were grateful to have them there.

“With conditions fair, the four casualties were brought to safety quickly and we wish them well.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI in Northern Ireland rescued a teenager after he drifted more than half a mile out to sea on an inflatable unicorn on Tuesday afternoon (2 August).

The volunteer crew launched the inshore lifeboat promptly at 3.45pm and made their way to Kilard Point in Strangford Lough where concerned members of the public had raised the alarm with Belfast Coastguard, the RNLI says.

The lifeboat crew located the casualty at Angus Rock within Strangford Lough and they immediately set about bringing the teenager onboard the lifeboat to checking him over for any injuries. The casualty was found to be safe and well.

The crew then proceeded back to Kilcief beach and transferred the casualty into the care of his family and the coastguard.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Ian Sands said: “We were glad to rescue the casualty this afternoon and bring him to safety. The casualty did the right thing by staying with the inflatable until help arrived.

“It is important to note that while inflatables can be fun, they are not designed for the beach where they can be easily be blown offshore.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI launched for the third time in two days on Wednesday evening (20 July) to retrieve a kayak that had drifted off Slanes Bay on Northern Ireland’s Arts Peninsula.

A member of the public raised the alarm shortly before 7.30pm after observing two children abandon a kayak when they got out of their depth in the water and decided to return to shore.

Portaferry RNLI’s volunteer crew — including new member Jesse Brown on her first callout — launched the inshore lifeboat promptly and made their way to Slanes Bay amid good weather conditions.

The kayak was located one mile off Slanes Bay at 8.05pm and the crew took it on board to prevent it becoming a risk to others on the water. The lifeboat then proceeded bay to nearby Cloughy beach and transferred the kayak into the care of the Portaferry Coastguard rescue team.

Commenting on the callout, Portaferry RNLI helm Chris Adair said: “Thankfully we were able to assist in bringing the kayak safely back to shore without it posing a danger to others.”

The previous evening, the Portaferry lifeboat launched to the aid of three casualties across two callouts in the space of two hours.

The first of these was two assist a female sea swimmer who had got into difficulty close to Killough Pier, west of Ardglass in Co Down.

As the lifeboat was en route via the Strangford Narrows, word came through that a local RIB has provided assistance and brought the swimmer ashore to the care of waiting emergency services. The crew were stood down and returned to Strangford to carry out their weekly exercise.

While out on exercise, the volunteer crew received reports from concerned kayakers of two paddleboarders struggling against the tide off Kilard Point after drifting a mile out from Kilclief Beach.

Once on scene, the volunteer crew helped the casualties aboard the lifeboat and brought them ashore to Strangford Pier.

Josh Boyd, Portaferry RNLI helm said: ‘“Clear information made it very straightforward for us to locate the two paddleboarders in the nick of time. With tide pulling the two further away from the shore, it was absolutely the correct thing for the kayakers to do in calling for help.”

As the weather gets warmer and more people travel to the coast, Portaferry RNLI reminds anyone planning a trip to sea or an activity on the water to always carry a means of calling for help, always wear a lifejacket and other appropriate protection and always check the weather and tides before going to sea.

Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

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Portaferry and Peel RNLI came to the aid of a kayaker who got into difficulty in the Irish Sea earlier this week.

The man, who had been kayaking from the Isle of Man to Northern Ireland from early morning on Wednesday (8 June) became fatigued and, when he couldn’t see land, raised the alarm for help.

Both the inshore lifeboat from Portaferry RNLI and the all-weather lifeboat from Peel RNLI on Mann were requested to launch.

The pagers at Portaferry RNLI sounded shortly after 5pm as the station’s operational and fundraising volunteers were enjoying a visit by the RNLI’s chief executive Mark Dowie.

The inshore lifeboat, helmed by Chris Adair and with three crew onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene some 14 miles out from the Strangford Narrows. The Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 was also tasked.

Weather conditions at the time were drizzly but there was good visibility. The sea was calm and there was a Force 3 easterly wind blowing. Once on scene at 5.58pm, the crew faced a Force 4 wind, fair visibility and a rough sea state.

The volunteer crew assessed the situation before helping the casualty out of his kayak and bringing him onboard the lifeboat.

He was then transferred to Peel RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat where he was brought inside the wheelhouse to be warmed up.

Both Portaferry and Peel lifeboat crews made their way to Portaferry with the casualty, who was checked over to ensure he was safe and well before he got warmed up with pizza and tea at the station.

Speaking following the callout, Philip Johnston, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “The casualty was wearing the appropriate gear for kayaking and made the right decision to call the coastguard for help once he found the conditions too much.

“We would like to wish him well and thank our fellow volunteers from Peel and our colleagues in the coastguard who were also on scene.

“The pagers went off as our volunteers were having a meeting with Mark Dowie, our chief executive who was visiting from England. We were delighted to update him on our lifesaving work at Portaferry RNLI and were equally delighted to be brought up to speed from him on the various work that is happening across our charity that we are all so passionate about.

“As the pagers went off, Mark commented that out of the 124 stations that he has visited so far, we were the fourth station to have a call out during his visit.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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How to sail, sailing clubs and sailing boats plus news on the wide range of sailing events on Irish waters forms the backbone of Afloat's sailing coverage.

We aim to encompass the widest range of activities undertaken on Irish lakes, rivers and coastal waters. This page describes those sailing activites in more detail and provides links and breakdowns of what you can expect from our sailing pages. We aim to bring jargon free reports separated in to popular categories to promote the sport of sailing in Ireland.

The packed 2013 sailing season sees the usual regular summer leagues and there are regular weekly race reports from Dublin Bay Sailing Club, Howth and Cork Harbour on Afloat.ie. This season and last also featured an array of top class events coming to these shores. Each year there is ICRA's Cruiser Nationals starts and every other year the Round Ireland Yacht Race starts and ends in Wicklow and all this action before July. Crosshaven's Cork Week kicks off on in early July every other year. in 2012 Ireland hosted some big international events too,  the ISAF Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire and in August the Tall Ships Race sailed into Dublin on its final leg. In that year the Dragon Gold Cup set sail in Kinsale in too.

2013 is also packed with Kinsale hosting the IFDS diabled world sailing championships in Kinsale and the same port is also hosting the Sovereign's Cup. The action moves to the east coast in July with the staging of the country's biggest regatta, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta from July 11.

Our coverage though is not restricted to the Republic of Ireland but encompasses Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Irish Sea area too. In this section you'll find information on the Irish Sailing Association and Irish sailors. There's sailing reports on regattas, racing, training, cruising, dinghies and keelboat classes, windsurfers, disabled sailing, sailing cruisers, Olympic sailing and Tall Ships sections plus youth sailing, match racing and team racing coverage too.

Sailing Club News

There is a network of over 70 sailing clubs in Ireland and we invite all clubs to submit details of their activities for inclusion in our daily website updates. There are dedicated sections given over to the big Irish clubs such as  the waterfront clubs in Dun Laoghaire; Dublin Bay Sailing Club, the Royal Saint George Yacht Club,  the Royal Irish Yacht Club and the National Yacht Club. In Munster we regularly feature the work of Kinsale Yacht Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven.  Abroad Irish sailors compete in Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) racing in the UK and this club is covered too. Click here for Afloat's full list of sailing club information. We are keen to increase our coverage on the network of clubs from around the coast so if you would like to send us news and views of a local interest please let us have it by sending an email to [email protected]

Sailing Boats and Classes

Over 20 active dinghy and one design classes race in Irish waters and fleet sizes range from just a dozen or so right up to over 100 boats in the case of some of the biggest classes such as the Laser or Optimist dinghies for national and regional championships. Afloat has dedicated pages for each class: Dragons, Etchells, Fireball, Flying Fifteen, GP14, J24's, J80's, Laser, Sigma 33, RS Sailing, Star, Squibs, TopperMirror, Mermaids, National 18, Optimist, Puppeteers, SB3's, and Wayfarers. For more resources on Irish classes go to our dedicated sailing classes page.

The big boat scene represents up to 60% of the sail boat racing in these waters and Afloat carries updates from the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA), the body responsible for administering cruiser racing in Ireland and the popular annual ICRA National Championships. In 2010 an Irish team won the RORC Commodore's Cup putting Irish cruiser racing at an all time high. Popular cruiser fleets in Ireland are raced right around the coast but naturally the biggest fleets are in the biggest sailing centres in Cork Harbour and Dublin Bay. Cruisers race from a modest 20 feet or so right up to 50'. Racing is typically divided in to Cruisers Zero, Cruisers One, Cruisers Two, Cruisers Three and Cruisers Four. A current trend over the past few seasons has been the introduction of a White Sail division that is attracting big fleets.

Traditionally sailing in northern Europe and Ireland used to occur only in some months but now thanks to the advent of a network of marinas around the coast (and some would say milder winters) there are a number of popular winter leagues running right over the Christmas and winter periods.

Sailing Events

Punching well above its weight Irish sailing has staged some of the world's top events including the Volvo Ocean Race Galway Stopover, Tall Ships visits as well as dozens of class world and European Championships including the Laser Worlds, the Fireball Worlds in both Dun Laoghaire and Sligo.

Some of these events are no longer pure sailing regattas and have become major public maritime festivals some are the biggest of all public staged events. In the past few seasons Ireland has hosted events such as La Solitaire du Figaro and the ISAF Dublin Bay 2012 Youth Worlds.

There is a lively domestic racing scene for both inshore and offshore sailing. A national sailing calendar of summer fixtures is published annually and it includes old favorites such as Sovereign's Cup, Calves Week, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle, All Ireland Sailing Championships as well as new events with international appeal such as the Round Britain and Ireland Race and the Clipper Round the World Race, both of which have visited Ireland.

The bulk of the work on running events though is carried out by the network of sailing clubs around the coast and this is mostly a voluntary effort by people committed to the sport of sailing. For example Wicklow Sailing Club's Round Ireland yacht race run in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club has been operating for over 30 years. Similarly the international Cork Week regatta has attracted over 500 boats in past editions and has also been running for over 30 years.  In recent years Dublin Bay has revived its own regatta called Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and can claim to be the country's biggest event with over 550 boats entered in 2009.

On the international stage Afloat carries news of Irish and UK interest on Olympics 2012, Sydney to Hobart, Volvo Ocean Race, Cowes Week and the Fastnet Race.

We're always aiming to build on our sailing content. We're keen to build on areas such as online guides on learning to sail in Irish sailing schools, navigation and sailing holidays. If you have ideas for our pages we'd love to hear from you. Please email us at [email protected]