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Portrush Lifeboat Station has welcomed “aboard” the Causeway Shantymen as the latest RNLI Ambassadors.

The Causeway Shantymen have become ambassadors for the RNLI during its 200th year. They have drawn great inspiration from a collaboration with Portrush RNLI and hope to play a significant role in promoting water safety and raising funds for the lifeboat station.

The group’s journey in just 12 months is remarkable, and they have quickly become a unique presence in Northern Ireland's music culture.

Their performances, ranging from collaboration with a West End theatre star to participating in maritime festivals and charity fundraisers, have brought joy to audiences. Their infectious passion for sea shanties not only entertains but also serves as a cultural link to the rich maritime heritage of the Causeway Coast.

Causeway Shantymen in action at SOS Day | Credit: RNLI/Causeway ShantymenCauseway Shantymen in action at SOS Day | Credit: RNLI/Causeway Shantymen

Sea shanties, with their tales of sailors' struggles and the harsh realities of life at sea, provide a glimpse into a bygone era.

Judy Nelson, volunteer lifeboat press officer said: “We need help more than ever to deliver our water safety messages. Over half the people that get into trouble in the water didn’t expect to get wet, and having the Causeway Shantymen on board will help us to deliver this message.

“This is such a natural fit for us at the station to team up with the Shantymen, especially when we made a guest appearance singing with them outside the lifeboat station at Christmas.

“The volunteer crew and station fundraising team are looking forward to working with them to help raise awareness of water safety and to raise funds for the station.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Three days after the rescue of three fishermen last Saturday afternoon, Wicklow RNLI launched lunchtime on Tuesday (13 February) to assist three more fishermen after their vessel experienced mechanical problems.

Under the command of coxswain Ciaran Doyle, the all-weather lifeboat Bridie O’Shea slipped its moorings from the south quay shortly before 9am and proceeded north to the casualty vessel’s last reported position.

The 11-metre fishing vessel was located at 9.35am drifting some eight miles off Bray Harbour, with three fishermen onboard were found to be safe and well.

Their fishing boat was found to have suffered engine failure and was unable to return to port under its own power, so the decision was made to tow the vessel to safety.

A towline was quickly established, and the lifeboat began to tow the stricken vessel back to Wicklow harbour, where it was secured alongside the south quay at 12.40pm and the fishermen were landed safely ashore.

Weather conditions at the time were favourable with calm sea and good visibility.

Speaking after the call-out, lifeboat press officer Tommy Dover said: “The fishermen did the right thing this morning by calling the coastguard for assistance. Our volunteer crew were happy to help.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Bundoran RNLI came to the aid of two people who got trapped at the bottom of a cliff in county Sligo on Wednesday afternoon (14 February).

The inshore lifeboat was requested to launch at 2.41pm following a report from the Irish Coast Guard that two people were trapped at rocks at Mermaid’s Cove.

The lifeboat helmed by Killian O’Kelly and with crew members Rory O’Connor and Fergal Mullen onboard, launched within seven minutes and made its way to the scene six miles away.

Weather conditions at the time were dull and overcast but visibility was good. The sea was calm with a small swell.

Arriving on scene, the crew observed two people at the bottom of the cliff who were unable to move without assistance. A crew member was put ashore to check one walker who had a suspected wrist injury.

Having assessed the situation and given the location was so close to rocks, it was decided that the safest way to extract the casualty was to request the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 118.

The helicopter crew arrived swiftly to winch and airlift the casualty to safety. The second person was able to make it back to the top of the cliff with the assistance of a lifeboat crew member and shore crew waiting at the top.

Speaking following the call-out, Bundoran RNLI helm Killian O’Kelly said: “We would like to wish the casualty a speedy recovery and thank our colleagues in Rescue 118 for their help today.

“We would remind anyone planning a walk at or near the coast to be wary of all edges around the sea and waterside as rocks can often be wet and slippy. Check weather and tides before venturing out and always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.

“Always take a means of calling for help and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Rosslare Harbour RNLI’s volunteer crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard on Sunday evening (11 February) to assist five crew on board a stricken fishing vessel.

The all-weather lifeboat was launched shortly after the shout at 5.26pm and quickly reached the scene two miles north of Rosslare Harbour, in clear weather with slight seas and good visibility.

It emerged that the 15m-long fishing vessel had an entangled propeller.

Having assessed the situation and consulted with the five crew onboard, it was decided to tow the vessel to Rosslare Harbour. A tow line was secured and the vessel was safely towed to the harbour.

Jamie Ryan, Rosslare Harbour RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “I would like to commend the crew of the fishing vessel for wearing their flotation safety devices and for carrying communication equipment.

“It is essential that sailors and fishers contact the coastguard when in difficulty. To do this, call 999 or 112.”

The lifeboat volunteer crew on this call-out were coxswain Mick Nicholas, mechanic Keith Miller, navigator Andrew Ironside and crew Paul McCormack, Eoghan Quirke, Ronan Hill, Seán Cullen and Stephen Breen.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

As the RNLI prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary on 4 March, the charity has brought some of its rich history to life with the release of a stunning collection of colourised images.

From community events to candid snapshots, 11 black-and-white images have been painstakingly cleaned and colourised with folds, scratches and dust removed using digital technology to shine new light on 200 years of saving lives at sea.

The striking images from across Ireland and the UK include courageous lifeboat crews, early fundraising street collections and iconic scenes of close-knit communities coming together to launch and recover lifeboats.

Part of the new collection is a photograph taken of Ballycotton coxswain Patrick Sliney, his wife and their son William at an annual meeting in 1936.

Full-length photograph of Ballycotton coxswain Patrick Sliney, Mrs Sliney and son William at an annual meeting in 1936 | Credit: RNLIFull-length photograph of Ballycotton coxswain Patrick Sliney, Mrs Sliney and son William at an annual meeting in 1936 | Credit: RNLI

In that same year, the Daunt Rock Lightship came adrift off Ballycotton in horrendous conditions with 12 people onboard. The lifeboat crew spent 49 hours at sea and eventually rescued all those onboard.

Patrick Sliney was awarded the RNLI Gold Medal for Gallantry and the rest of his crew, including his son William, received Bronze Medals.

Also featured in the collection is the most decorated RNLI lifesaver, Henry Blogg, who was born on 6 February 1876. Blogg served for 53 years on Cromer’s lifeboats in Norfolk, England before retiring in 1947, having saved 873 lives and been awarded many honours including three Gold and four Silver RNLI Medals for Gallantry.

The image of Henry, which first appeared in the Lifeboat Journal in 1916, shows him wearing black oilskins and a sou’wester, which preceded the instantly recognisable yellow waterproofs now associated with the RNLI.

Before and after: A portrait of Henry Blogg, the most decorated RNLI lifesaver, who in his 53 years of service helped save 873 people | Credit: RNLIBefore and after: A portrait of Henry Blogg, the most decorated RNLI lifesaver, who in his 53 years of service helped save 873 people | Credit: RNLI

RNLI heritage and archive research manager Hayley Whiting said: “The carefully coloured images illustrate just a few highlights of the incredible history of lifesaving over the previous two centuries, where over 144,000 lives have been saved to date.

“To see the crew of St Davids lifeboat walking up from the boathouse wearing their traditional red hats, the yellow sou’westers of the children fundraising or the vibrant blue sea off the Isle of Man, the reworked images really do bring a different perspective on some of our archived pictures.

“Each image has been brought to life by our own in-house creative team with hours spent on attention to detail, along with research being undertaken to ensure each one gave a true, lifelike representation.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Tributes have been paid to Red Bay RNLI helm Gary Fyfe after his sudden death on Thursday night (8 February).

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the 46-year-old died at the scene of a single-vehicle crash in Cushendall, Co Antrim.

His funeral will take place on Sunday (11 February) with Requiem Mass in St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Church, Glenariffe at 10am.

Red Bay RNLI said Fyfe was “a giant in our lifeboat station, a natural leader who everyone turned to for advice and guidance”.

It added that this year would have seen Fyfe receive his 30-year service medal, having signed up for the RNLI as a lifeboat volunteer at the age of 17.

Gary Fyfe, as the Operations Manager of Red Bay Boats Ltd, one of the leading boat builders in Northern Ireland, had a keen interest in marine affairs across Ireland. This included Afloat.ie. He is pictured standing on the bow area of the magazine's Red Bay 7.4m cabin RIB during a recent Afloat trip on a fine day to his beloved Cushendall Harbour Photo: AfloatGary Fyfe, as the Operations Manager of Red Bay Boats Ltd, a leading boat builder in Northern Ireland, had a keen interest in marine affairs across Ireland. This included Afloat.ie. He is pictured standing in the bow area of the magazine's Red Bay 7.4m cabin RIB during a recent Afloat trip on a fine day to his beloved Cushendall Harbour Photo: Afloat

His lifeboat colleagues added: “Gary was responsible for saving many lives during his years on the Red Bay lifeboat. He never sought recognition or praise for his rescues but rather carried his achievements lightly and thought only of others.

“In our small but close community in Cushendall, Gary was an anchor for us all and his loss will be felt far and wide. His life and the selfless way he lived it, touched so many people.”

Gary Fyfe is survived by his wife Clare and children Eleanor and Alexander.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Just days after the Arranmore RNLI volunteer crew carried out a marathon rescue of a fishing crew in challenging weather conditions, they were again called out to assist with a medical evacuation from the island at 7pm on Thursday evening (8 February).

Following the third call-out for the crew in as many days, lifeboat coxswain Seán O'Donnell said: “This was a quick call which we were pleased to respond to following our long service on Sunday. We are always ready to answer the call no matter what it is.”

The crew on board on Thursday alongside O’Donnell were mechanic Philip McCauley, Brian Proctor, Seamus Bonner, Sharon O’Donnell, Mickey Dubh McHugh and Seán Sammy Gallagher.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew of Arranmore RNLI responded to a call by Malin Head Coast Guard at 6am on Wednesday morning (31 January) to four fishermen on a boat in difficulty at Inis Meain, off the coast of Bunbeg in Co Donegal.

The lifeboat arrived on scene just before 7am and the crew ascertained that the casualty boat, a 12-metre crabber with four crew onboard, had got into difficulty as it was sheltering from the south-westerly winds and went aground on the island.

With winds and gusts of 50-60 miles per hour blowing on shore and swells of four to five metres, the lifeboat coxswain Seán O’Donnell assessed the scene in conjunction with the Irish Coast Guard’s Rescue 118 helicopter crew from Sligo, who were also tasked.

Following the assessment, Rescue 118 airlifted the four crew members and proceeded to Carrickfinn airport where they were landed safely. The lifeboat returned to anchor after refuelling in Burtonport at 9.30am.

Speaking following the call-out, O’Donnell said: “I’m really pleased that all the crew were brought to safety and would like to commend the helicopter crew for their professionalism in the execution of the rescue of the four crew members. It is a privilege to work alongside the coastguard crews from Bunbeg, Malin Head and of course Rescue 118.

“I would also like to thank our own crew onboard the lifeboat for their dedication in answering the call so early on a windy morning.”

The lifeboat crew on this call-out alongside O’Donnell were mechanic Philip McCauley, Reamon O’Donnell, Sharon O’Donnell, Brian Proctor, Finbar Gallagher, Jamie Neeson and Aisling Cox.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Pwllheli RNLI has closed over “ongoing distrust and disharmony” between crew members at the North Wales lifeboat station.

According to BBC News, a number of key personnel have also resigned from the station, prompting the RNLI to “reset operations”.

“Until we’ve got a safe number of crew and a safe management structure to support that lifeboat station, we’re not able to go back on to service,” said the RNLI’s Wales manager Ryan Jennings.

A statement from the RNLI said its decision to close the Pwllheli station was “not taken lightly but is considered necessary to move forward with an inclusive and sustainable lifeboat station…for many years to come”.

Pwllheli is a regular haunt for Irish sailors taking part in the annual ISORA races.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Crews from the Aran Islands and Galway RNLI stations took part in a joint training exercise on inner Galway Bay this past Saturday (27 January).

The training was an opportunity for the crews from the two flanking stations to work together on a number of boat-handling and seamanship exercises to prepare for future joint search and rescue missions.

Brian Niland, helm with Galway RNLI who led the exercise for the Galway crew said: “We were delighted to welcome the Aran Islands RNLI crewm onboard the all-weather Severn class lifeboat David Kirkaldy, to Galway for a training exercise off Salthill.

“It was impressive to see the larger Aran Islands lifeboat and see how the two lifeboats can work side by side.

“The training was a great learning experience for both crews and will help us when we are requested to launch together, to help those in danger in the water. Our volunteer lifeboat crews spend many hours training so we can meet the dangers and challenges we face at sea.”

Galway RNLI crew on board the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Binny leaving Galway Port with the Aran Islands RNLI crew on board the all-weather Severn lifeboat David Kirkaldy | Credit: RNLI/Aoife MorrissyGalway RNLI crew on board the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Binny leaving Galway Port with the Aran Islands RNLI crew on board the all-weather Severn lifeboat David Kirkaldy | Credit: RNLI/Aoife Morrissy

Aran Islands RNLI coxswain Aonghus Ó hIarnáin said: “Saturday’s training exercise was a good chance to meet the Galway crew and show what the lifeboat from each station is capable of.

“The type of lifeboat a station has depends on geographical features, the kind of rescues the station is involved in and the cover provided by neighbouring lifeboat stations.

“Our Severn class lifeboat is designed for the offshore long jobs we face in the toughest weather, while the Galway Atlantic class lifeboat is one of the fastest in the fleet and is ideal for rescues close to shore, near cliffs and rocks which may be inaccessible to our all-weather lifeboat. Working together we are able to carry out search and rescue throughout Galway Bay.

“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, RNLI lifeboat crews are ready to answer the call to rescue. If you see someone in trouble at the coast call 112 or 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Annalise Murphy, Olympic Silver Medalist

The National Yacht Club's Annalise Murphy (born 1 February 1990) is a Dublin Bay sailor who won a silver medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics. She is a native of Rathfarnham, a suburb of Dublin.

Murphy competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the Women's Laser Radial class. She won her first four days of sailing at the London Olympics and, on the fifth day, came in 8th and 19th position.

They were results that catapulted her on to the international stage but those within the tiny sport of Irish sailing already knew her of world-class capability in a breeze and were not surprised.

On the sixth day of the competition, she came 2nd and 10th and slipped down to second, just one point behind the Belgian world number one.

Annalise was a strong contender for the gold medal but in the medal race, she was overtaken on the final leg by her competitors and finished in 4th, her personal best at a world-class regatta and Ireland's best Olympic class result in 30 years.

Radial European Gold

Murphy won her first major medal at an international event the following year on home waters when she won gold at the 2013 European Sailing Championships on Dublin Bay.

Typically, her track record continues to show that she performs best in strong breezes that suit her large stature (height: 1.86 m Weight: 72 kg).

She had many international successes on her road to Rio 2016 but also some serious setbacks including a silver fleet finish in flukey winds at the world championships in the April of Olympic year itself.

Olympic Silver Medal

On 16 August 2016, Murphy won the silver medal in the Laser Radial at the 2016 Summer Olympics defying many who said her weight and size would go against her in Rio's light winds.

As Irish Times Sailing Correspondent David O'Brien pointed out: " [The medal] was made all the more significant because her string of consistent results was achieved in a variety of conditions, the hallmark of a great sailor. The medal race itself was a sailing master class by the Dubliner in some decidedly fickle conditions under Sugarloaf mountain".

It was true that her eight-year voyage ended with a silver lining but even then Murphy was plotting to go one better in Tokyo four years later.

Sportswoman of the Year

In December 2016, she was honoured as the Irish Times/Sport Ireland 2016 Sportswoman of the Year.

In March, 2017, Annalise Murphy was chosen as the grand marshal of the Dublin St Patrick's day parade in recognition of her achievement at the Rio Olympics.

She became the Female World Champion at the Moth Worlds in July 2017 in Italy but it came at a high price for the Olympic Silver medallist. A violent capsize in the last race caused her to sustain a knee injury which subsequent scans revealed to be serious. 

Volvo Ocean Race

The injury was a blow for her return to the Olympic Laser Radial discipline and she withdrew from the 2017 World Championships. But, later that August, to the surprise of many, Murphy put her Tokyo 2020 ambitions on hold for a Volvo Ocean Race crew spot and joined Dee Caffari’s new Turn the Tide On Plastic team that would ultimately finish sixth from seventh overall in a global circumnavigation odyssey.

Quits Radial for 49erFX

There were further raised eyebrows nine months later when, during a break in Volvo Ocean Race proceedings, in May 2018 Murphy announced she was quitting the Laser Radial dinghy and was launching a 49er FX campaign for Tokyo 2020. Critics said she had left too little time to get up to speed for Tokyo in a new double-handed class.

After a 'hugely challenging' fourteen months for Murphy and her crew Katie Tingle, it was decided after the 2019 summer season that their 'Olympic medal goal' was no longer realistic, and the campaign came to an end. Murphy saying in interviews “I guess the World Cup in Japan was a bit of a wakeup call for me, I was unable to see a medal in less than twelve months and that was always the goal".

The pair raced in just six major regattas in a six-month timeframe. 

Return to Radial

In September 2019, Murphy returned to the Laser Radial dinghy and lead a four-way trial for the Tokyo 2020 Irish Olympic spot after the first of three trials when she finished 12th at the Melbourne World Championships in February 2020.

Selection for Tokyo 2021

On June 11, Irish Sailing announced Annalise Murphy had been nominated in the Laser Radial to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Murphy secured the Laser Radial nomination after the conclusion of a cut short trials in which rivals Aoife Hopkins, Aisling Keller and Eve McMahon also competed.

Disappointment at Tokyo 2021

After her third Olympic Regatta, there was disappointment for Murphy who finished 18th overall in Tokyo. On coming ashore after the last race, she indicated her intention to return to studies and retire from Olympic sailing.  

On 6th Aguust 2020, Murphy wrote on Facebook:  "I am finally back home and it’s been a week since I finished racing, I have been lucky enough to experience the highs and the lows of the Olympics. I am really disappointed, I can’t pretend that I am not. I wasn’t good enough last week, the more mistakes I made the more I lost confidence in my decision making. Two years ago I made a plan to try and win a gold medal in the Radial, I believed that with my work ethic and attitude to learning, that everything would work out for me. It didn’t work out this time but I do believe that it’s worth dreaming of winning Olympic medals as I’m proof that it is possible, I also know how scary it is to try knowing you might not be good enough!
I am disappointed for Rory who has been my coach for 15 years, we’ve had some great times together and I wish I could have finished that on a high. I have so much respect for Olympic sailing coaches. They also have to dedicate their lives to getting to the games. I know I’ll always appreciate the impact Rory has had on my life as a person.
I am so grateful for the support I have got from my family and friends, I have definitely been selfish with my time all these years and I hope I can now make that up to you all! Thanks to Kate, Mark and Rónán for always having my back! Thank you to my sponsors for believing in me and supporting me. Thank you Tokyo for making these games happen! It means so much to the athletes to get this chance to do the Olympics.
I am not too sure what is next for me, I definitely don’t hate sailing which is a positive. I love this sport, even when it doesn’t love me 😂. Thank you everyone for all the kind words I am finally getting a chance to read!"

Annalise Murphy, Olympic Sailor FAQs

Annalise Murphy is Ireland’s best performing sailor at Olympic level, with a silver medal in the Laser Radial from Rio 2016.

Annalise Murphy is from Rathfarnham, a suburb in south Co Dublin with a population of some 17,000.

Annalise Murphy was born on 1 February 1990, which makes her 30 years old as of 2020.

Annalise Murphy’s main competition class is the Laser Radial. Annalise has also competed in the 49erFX two-handed class, and has raced foiling Moths at international level. In 2017, she raced around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race.

In May 2018, Annalise Murphy announced she was quitting the Laser Radial and launching a campaign for Tokyo 2020 in the 49erFX with friend Katie Tingle. The pairing faced a setback later that year when Tingle broke her arm during training, and they did not see their first competition until April 2019. After a disappointing series of races during the year, Murphy brought their campaign to an end in September 2019 and resumed her campaign for the Laser Radial.

Annalise Murphy is a longtime and honorary member of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

Aside from her Olympic success, Annalise Murphy won gold at the 2013 European Sailing Championships on Dublin Bay.

So far Annalise Murphy has represented Ireland at two Olympic Games.

Annalise Murphy has one Olympic medal, a silver in the Women’s Laser Radial from Rio 2016.

Yes; on 11 June 2020, Irish Sailing announced Annalise Murphy had been nominated in the Women’s Laser Radial to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.

Yes; in December 2016, Annalise Murphy was honoured as the Irish Times/Sport Ireland 2016 Sportswoman of the Year. In the same year, she was also awarded Irish Sailor of the Year.

Yes, Annalise Murphy crewed on eight legs of the 2017-18 edition of The Ocean Race.

Annalise Murphy was a crew member on Turn the Tide on Plastic, skippered by British offshore sailor Dee Caffari.

Annalise Murphy’s mother is Cathy McAleavy, who competed as a sailor in the 470 class at the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988.

Annalise Murphy’s father is Con Murphy, a pilot by profession who is also an Olympic sailing race official.

Annalise Murphy trains under Irish Sailing Performance head coach Rory Fitzpatrick, with whom she also prepared for her silver medal performance in Rio 2016.

Annalise Murphy trains with the rest of the team based at the Irish Sailing Performance HQ in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Annalise Murphy height is billed as 6 ft 1 in, or 183cm.

©Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Annalise Murphy Significant Results

2016: Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Silver

2013: European Championships, Dublin, Ireland – Gold

2012: Summer Olympics, London, UK – 4th

2011: World Championships, Perth, Australia – 6th

2010: Skandia Sail for Gold regatta – 10th

2010: Became the first woman to win the Irish National Championships.

2009: World Championships – 8th

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