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Aran Islands RNLI has responded to consecutive calls for help today to carry out two medical evacuations.

The volunteer crew were first asked to launch their all-weather lifeboat David Kirkaldy, at 11.25 am by the Irish Coast Guard.

An elderly man required medical attention on the Island of Inis Meáin.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain Pete Hanscombe and a full crew.

Weather conditions were moderate at the time with a force 3 light South-East wind.

Once alongside the pier in Inis Meain, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat and brought under the supervision of the volunteer crew members. While preparing to leave the pier in Inis Meain, the lifeboat received another call, this time to go to the aid of a woman on Inis Mór who was also in need of further medical attention.

The lifeboat headed straight for Inis Mór and once alongside the pontoon, the patient was transferred safely aboard and put under the supervision of the lifeboat crew. The lifeboat then proceeded on to Rossaveal harbour where the crew transferred the patients on to a waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the call out, Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain Pete Hanscombe said: ‘This was a busy morning for the volunteer crew members, but they responded quickly and both patients were transferred safely and quickly to the Ambulance in Rossaveal. We would like to wish both patients a speedy recovery.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Galway Bay FM reports that almost €100,000 has been ring-fenced for the completion of coastal protection works on Inis Mór in the Aran Islands.

The works will focus on arresting erosion at the island’s coastal cemetery, which locals fear will bear the brunt of more extreme weather in the future.

The funding comes from a grant of more than €750,000 from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to complete improvement works on a number of the Ireland’s coastal islands.

Besides Inis Mór, the list includes Whiddy Island, Bear Island, Hare Island and Sherkin Island in Co Cork; Inis Bigil, Clare Island and Inishturk in Co Mayo; and Oileán an Bhráighe, Árainn Mhór and Gabhla in Co Donegal.

Published in Coastal Notes

An aviation “first” has been recorded on the Atlantic corridor between Connemara and the Aran Islands with the delivery of medication by a drone writes Lorna Siggins

The Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift drone flew diabetes prescription medications and a collection of a patient blood sample almost 22 km across from Connemara airport in Indreabhán to the largest Aran island of Inis Mór last Friday.

The return leg was slightly shorter at 21.6km, and both flights were completed on a single set of batteries, amounting to 32 minutes of flight time.

The DiabetesDrone project was led by NUI Galway (NUIG), and run in partnership with several industry experts and stakeholders.

It was supported by the Irish Aviation Authority and took place between commercial flights to and from Connemara and the Aran islands - showing that future deliveries of this kind could take place within “planned drone corridors”, according to NUIG.

The project participants noted that it is “crucial that people with diabetes have access to their lifesaving medicine at all times, which is often challenging in remote geographic regions and in times of natural disasters”.

“Recent severe weather events, including storms Emma and Ophelia, demonstrated a clear need to develop the capability to deliver insulin and other critical medications (such as glucagon) in times of crisis,” they noted.

NUIG professor of medical device technology Prof Derek O’Keeffe said that island and rural communities could become isolated for days after a severe weather event and might need emergency medicine deliveries.

“To date, medical drones have demonstrated success, for example in delivering blood, defibrillators and human organs for transplant. This #DiabetesDrone project represents another milestone in the use of drones to improve patient care,” he said.

Aran island GP Dr Marian Broderick said that the drone technology offered "endless possibilities" for island communities.

The drone supplied by Survey Drones Ireland was equipped with an insulated parcel delivery box for the payload. The devices reach destinations of up to 100 km distance in less than an hour.

The drone was launched from Connemara Airport using a combination of software - one for the pre-flight checklist and one for the mission flight, and was connected via Vodafone Ireland’s “Internet of Things” network, and flew a pre-planned flight path using “Q Ground Control” software.

Published in Island News
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An apparent coastguard vessel from the United States has washed up in the Aran Islands today (Tuesday 3 September).

In a post on their Facebook page, the Doolin Ferry Company reported spotting an object in the water on the way to Inis Oírr that turned out to be an upturned boat.

With the help of a local fishing boat and a number of islanders, the red boat was brought onto the beach and investigated for clues — the biggest being its serial number.

That identified the vessel as “Fast Military Rescue Boat”.

It’s not yet clear how long the boat has been in the water, and how it came to drift to Ireland’s shores.

But the ferry company’s appeal for more information has potentially identified it as boat built in 2015 for use in gunnery training by the US Navy.

David K Hunt of Alabama-based Silver Ships says the vessel is a “foam collar boat” used for target practice.

“We do air collar boats that are intended to sink, not float to Ireland,” he added.

Published in Coastal Notes

Two people were evacuated from the Aran Islands for medical reasons by the area’s RNLI lifeboat yesterday (Wednesday 28 August).

At 4.50pm the all-weather lifeboat David Kirkaldy called to launch from Inis Mór to neighbouring Inis Meain where an elderly man had been injured in a fall.

Under coxswain John O’Donnell and a full crew onboard, the Severn class lifeboat braved difficulty conditions, with choppy 1.5-metres seas and Force 5-6 west to south-westerly wind, to transfer the casualty to the waiting ambulance in Rossaveal.

Later in the evening, just after 11pm, the volunteer crew were called out for another medevac, this time to a sick man elsewhere on Inis Mór who required further treatment, Aran Islands RNLI says.

Despite the even worse conditions at sea, the man was safely transferred to Rossaveal and the waiting paramedics.

O’Donnell said later: “Yesterday was a busy one for the volunteer crew members but they are always ready to answer the call and happy to help out. We would like to wish both patients a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Aran Islands lifeboat volunteers launched their all-weather lifeboat on Saturday afternoon (17 August) to carry out a medical evacuation for an injured tourist.

The female visitor to Inis Mór had sustained a suspected fractured leg while out sightseeing, Aran Islands RNLI said.

The casualty was transferred safely aboard the Severn class lifeboat David Kirkaldy under coxswain Tommy Dirrane and a full crew, and was brought to the waiting ambulance at Rossaveal Harbour.

Dirrane said later: “The volunteer crew members train regularly to maintain their quick response time and that can make all the difference to the casualty you are going to help. We would like to wish the casualty a speedy recovery.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, Rosslare Harbour RNLI volunteers were called to assist a small yacht with two onboard in difficulty off Cahore Point off the North Wexford coast.

Tangled in a lobster pot line and unable to sail in the freshening south westerly wind, the crew called the Irish Coast Guard for assistance, according to the RNLI.

Rosslare Harbour RNLI volunteers launched their all-weather lifeboat and reached the yacht in a short time.

Lifeboat volunteers reached the yacht in short order and set up a tow line to bring it close to Cahore Harbour, where the Cahore inshore rescue boat took over due to the shallow water.

Rosslare Harbour RNLI coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke said: “I would like to commend our volunteer crew who worked hard to attach a tow to the yacht in challenging conditions. We were glad to see the vulnerable yacht and her crew safe.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Island life, in all its challenges, also harbours opportunity for the transition to renewable energy — and the people of the Aran Islands are putting that into practice.

Juliette Gash reports for RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland from the Galway Bay island group, where the local energy co-operative set an ambitious target to be self-sustainable for energy generated from the wind, waves and sun by 2022.

While they may not hit 100% by that date, they have made progress that outs the rest of Ireland to shame.

But that should be no surprise when Ireland’s island communities have long been ahead of the curve when it comes to green energy — particularly Cape Clear in West Cork, which until 1993 had the world’s first integrated wind energy system.

Listen to the full RTÉ Morning Ireland report below:

Published in Power From the Sea

Aran Islands RNLI responded to two medical evacuations, or medevacs, yesterday morning (Tuesday 23 July).

The all-weather Severn class lifeboat Margaret, Joan and Fred NYE launched at 10.15am following a request from the Irish Coast Guard, headed initially to Inis Meain.

Weather conditions were good with a 1.5m swell and a force 4-5 southerly wind as coxswain Mairtín O’Flaithearta and a full crew approached the pier at Inis Meain, where a teenager requiring further medical attention was taken aboard the lifeboat.

The crew then proceeded to Inis Oirr, where a young child also requiring further medical attention was taken aboard.

Both casualties were then taken straight to Rossaveal Harbour where they were transferred to hospital for further treatment.

Speaking after the callout, O’Flaithearta said: “A call can come at any time, and often like today where we had get two call outs at once. In situations like this, our regular crew training helps with a quick response time.

“We would like to wish both casualties a speedy recovery.”

The medevac came just days after Aran Islands RNLI were called to assist a yacht with engine difficulty off Straw Island.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Aran Islands RNLI rescued two sailors after their 38ft yacht got into difficulties off Gorumna Island in Co Galway yesterday morning (Thursday 27 June).

The station received the shout at 7.27am and the lifeboat David Kirkaldy launched under coxswain Tommy Dirrane with a full crew, heading straight for the 38ft yacht that had got tangled in lobster pots in the North Sound.

Conditions on the water were choppy with moderate seas and a 1.5m swell, and an east to north-easterly wind.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew established contact with the two people aboard the yacht, and found that a local fisherman in the area had freed the vessel from the tangled lobster pots.

The lifeboat then escorted the yacht, which was under sail, as far as the mouth of Kilronan Harbour, where a tow line was established due to steering issues to guide the yacht alongside the pier.

Speaking after the callout, Dirrane said: “Thankfully, this was a good outcome to what could have been a different situation and we would like to commend the local fisherman who also helped.

“As we enjoy the good weather and the summer months ahead, we would like to remind anyone planning a trip to sea to always respect the water.”

“CarrybridgeCarrybridge RNLI with the grounded vessel close to the Share Discovery Village | Photo: RNLI/Carrybridge

Elsewhere, Carrybridge RNLI launched its inshore lifeboat yesterday afternoon to aid a vessel with five on board that had run around around a mile north-west of the Share Discovery Village on Upper Lough Erne.

All on board were found safe and well, and wearing lifejackets. Their vessel was not taking on water, so a tow line was set up to refloat it in deeper water.

After checks for damage gave the all-clear, the vessel was allowed to continue its journey.

Lifeboat operations manager Stephen Scott added: “We would remind all users that before going afloat they should always carry a means of communication and to plan their voyage using relevant charts.

“If you see someone in trouble on the water or are in difficulties yourself the number to dial is: 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew were tasked to launch their all-weather lifeboat early in the early hours of yesterday morning, Saturday 22 June.

A young man visiting Inis Mór had sustained an eye injury that required further medical attention.

The lifeboat launched after 2.30am in calm seas under coxswain Tommy Dirrane and with six crew members onboard, and after collecting the young man proceeded to Rossaveal Harbour.

The patient was then transferred safely to a waiting ambulance and on to University College Hospital Galway for further treatment.

Speaking following the callout, Dirrane said: “Our volunteers had an early morning wake-up call today but that it is what they are trained, willing and prepared to do to help anyone they can.

“All at Aran Islands RNLI would like to wish the casualty a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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