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RNLI volunteers have been honoured at the charity’s annual presentation of awards in Northern Ireland.

The event which was staged at the Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s Office on Friday night (21 October) honoured 21 awardees recognising their dedication and commitment to volunteering over long periods of time in a bid to raise funds and awareness and to help save lives at sea.

The ceremony was opened by Christopher Brooke, a member of the RNLI Council of Ireland. Mr Brooke welcomed the awardees and their families before introducing the guest speaker, outgoing RNLI Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease.

The awards included eight Gold Badges, four Bar to Gold badges, one supporter award, two Honorary Life Governorships and six long service awards.

The eight gold badge awards which recognise those who have dedicated many years to supporting the RNLI, were awarded to Sean Boyle and James Shovlin from The Rosses Branch in County Donegal, Rodney Byrne and Dorothy Weeks from the Portrush Lifeboat Management Group, Patrick Carter and Martin Reilly from the Sligo Bay Branch, Paddy McLaughlin from the Red Bay Branch in Cushendall and Lillian Stewart from the Larne Branch.

The Adelphi Hotel in Portrush was recognised with a supporter award.

There were four Bar to Gold badges, one of which was awarded posthumously to John Charleton from the Kilkeel Branch. Lynda Davidson from the Donaghadee Fundraising Branch, Margaret Nicholson from the Kilkeel Branch and Aileen Smyth from the Donaghadee Ladies’ Guild were also awarded.

The Honorary Life Governorship awards went to Eveleigh Brownlow from Portaferry and District Guild and Elenore Huston from the Coleraine/Castlerock Branch.

The long service awards in recognition of 20 years volunteering commitment went to Jeffrey Bell from Larne RNLI, Gregory McDaid from Lough Swilly RNLI, Raymond Newell from Kilkeel RNLI and Simon Rogers from Portaferry RNLI. Morrris McBride from Kilkeel RNLI and Shane McNamara from Donaghadee RNLI were recognised with a 30 year Bar to Long Service badge.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Hunter-Pease said there were a range of differing reasons why people volunteered for the RNLI: ‘There are the friendships forged through a common lifesaving aim. The thrill of seeing visitors enjoying your carefully planned events. The weight of a heavy bucket after a hard day’s collecting. And, yes many are motivated to volunteer for us by the pain of losing a loved one to the sea. They have converted that loss into a determination to make a difference to the lives of others.’

He said it was truly humbling to think of the collective years’ experience and care that was in the room: ‘To everyone one of you receiving an award – whether your service has been at sea or ashore – wear it with pride. It is the mark of someone very special, selflessly dedicated to the lives of others.’

Before presenting the awards, Mr Hunter-Pease said the RNLI had made an extraordinary difference to people’s lives in 2015. Volunteers from Northern Ireland’s nine lifeboat stations rescued 279 people and saved 11 lives. The lifeguards on 11 beaches on the Causeway Coast and in County Down rescued 11 people and saved one person’s life.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Howth RNLI rescued a man who got into difficulty on a jet ski this afternoon and ended up in the water east of Ireland’s Eye.

The volunteer lifeboat crew was requested to launch both their inshore and all-weather lifeboats at 3.35pm following reports that a man was missing in the sea after his jet ski developed engine difficulties.

The alarm had been raised by a companion of the casualty’s who had come ashore on his own jet ski.

The two men had left Howth harbour earlier in the day before one of their jet skis encountered problems.

The lifeboats quickly travelled to the reported area between Balscadden and Ireland’s Eye and commenced a search.

Weather conditions at the time were described as good with clear visibility. However, the sea was quite rough with strong easterly winds generating large breaking waves in the vicinity of Ireland’s Eye.

As Afloat.ie reported earlier, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 was also tasked to the search. Using its onboard search equipment, the helicopter quickly located the casualty who had drifted quite a distance from his original location.

Following this communication from the Coast Guard helicopter, the all-weather lifeboat proceeded to the scene and rescued the casualty who was found clinging to the jet ski. He had been in the water for approximately 30 minutes. Once onboard the lifeboat, the crew began to administer casualty care to man who was extremely cold.

Arriving back at Howth Lifeboat Station, the man was transferred from the lifeboat into a waiting ambulance where he was treated for hypothermia.

The inshore lifeboat meanwhile took the stricken jet ski in tow and returned it to the safety of Howth Harbour.

Speaking following the call out, Colm Newport, Howth RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘Time was of the essence this afternoon as the casualty was in the water for some time. Team work was at the centre of this call out and with thanks to our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard who located the casualty once onscene, we were able to rescue the man and bring him ashore. We would like to wish both him and his companion well following their ordeal.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Arranmore RNLI in County Donegal launched in the early hours of this morning (Wednesday 19 October) to go the assistance of two sailors who got into difficulty at St John’s Point.

The volunteer lifeboat crew was requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 4.15am at the request of the Irish Coast Guard following a report that a Canadian 45ft yacht with two men onboard had ran aground at St John’s Point.

The lifeboat under Coxswain Lee Early and with six crew onboard launched and made its way to the scene.

Killybegs Coast Guard unit was also tasked.

Weather conditions at the time were described as blowing a Force 4-5 north westerly wind with a two metre swell.

Once on scene at 6.20am, the lifeboat crew observed that the vessel was right up on the reefs making it difficult for the Coast Guard’s inshore boat and the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat to get close to the casualties. The yacht had also begun to take on water. It was at this point the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo was also tasked with the decision made to airlift the sailors to safety.

Speaking following the call out, Arranmore RNLI mechanic Philip McCauley said: ‘This was a challenging call out for ourselves and our colleagues in the Coast Guard this morning due to where the vessel had ran aground so close to the rocks. We were able to assist the helicopter with providing extra light in the darkness as it winched the sailors to safety. We would like to wish them both well following their ordeal.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer lifeboat crew from Castletownbere RNLI has been awarded a Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service. 

The award in recognition of the crew’s ability to locate and save a life in challenging weather conditions was presented by the Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Shane Ross, T.D. at the National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards 2016 at a ceremony in Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park on Friday evening (14 October).

Castletownbere RNLI was represented at the awards by Lifeboat Operations Manager Tony O’Sullivan, Coxswain Brian O’Driscoll and crew members John Paul Downey and Kyle Cronin.

The call out for which the lifeboat was awarded happened when the Castletownbere lifeboat, Annette Hutton, was launched early on Saturday morning 20 August. After 12 hours at sea in storm force conditions, the volunteer lifeboat crew rescued a lone sailor.

Valentia Coast Guard Radio had requested assistance to a yacht in difficulties 45 miles south of Mizen head in West Cork. The resceu was reported at the time by Afloat.ie here.

The eight-metre yacht, with one person on board, had left the Azores in early August and ran into difficulties the day previous. The sailor, in his sixties, had been in regular radio contact with Valentia Coast Guard radio until the morning when his VHF radio was washed overboard. He activated an EPIRB to identify his location, raise the alarm and seek help.

The lifeboat, under the command of Coxswain Brian O’Driscoll, was launched at 8am and located the casualty at 10.40am 50 miles south-west of Castletownbere. The Irish Coast Guard helicopter was also on scene.

Conditions were described as gusting Force 8/9 winds with a 30 foot swell. The yacht was taken under tow and the lifeboat proceeded slowly to Castletownbere in challenging sea conditions. Early into the tow lifeboat crew became concerned about the wellbeing of the sailor and crew managed to transfer him to the lifeboat. The lifeboat, with the damaged yacht in tow, returned to Castletownbere at 8.30pm having been at sea for 12 and a half hours.

Later that evening the sailor thanked the Castletownbere lifeboat and all involved for ‘saving his life’. He said: ‘only for the lifeboat, things would have ended up very badly today’.

The Castletownbere Coxswain and crew demonstrated skill, seamanship and endurance during what was a long and challenging day.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Minister Ross praised the ‘courageous achievements and service of this group of brave Irish men and women who have faced crises and dug deep, offering their skills and in many cases placing themselves in danger in order that others might be safe on our waterways’.
Pausing to remember those who lost their lives at sea since the last set of Awards in 2014, Minister Ross spoke of the tragic death of volunteer Coast Guard Caitríona Lucas last month, describing her as ‘a courageous and heroic woman who made the ultimate sacrifice while in the service of others’.

The awards are to recognise outstanding acts of courage, heroism, skill and initiative in the context of marine emergency incidents. The scheme also recognises exceptional dedication to duty in the execution of Ireland’s marine emergency response.

A Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation may be awarded for meritorious service where outstanding dedication to duty over a career of service can be demonstrated, or for an act of particular meritorious dedication, showing skill and initiative, but which is not of an order for receipt of a Meritorious Service or Marine Gallantry medal.

The volunteer lifeboat crew from Kinsale RNLI and Lough Swilly RNLI in County Donegal were also awarded a Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation.

The National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards Committee is chaired by Bryan Dobson of RTÉ.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Claire Sugden, The Justice Minister called in on her local RNLI Lifeboat station at Portrush the weekend to pay tribute to the work they do on the North Coast.

The Minister was keen to meet all the volunteers including crew, fundraisers and the operations team. She met Des Austin, Cox and Robin Cardwell Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) in the lifeboat House firstly to hear about the work of the volunteers and the rigorous training they underwent in order to achieve the competencies to be able to save lives at sea. She then met Sharman Finlay Chair of the fundraising team and Dorothy Weeks, supervisor of the very successful Lifeboat Shop to hear about the importance of fundraising activities to support the volunteer crew.

The Minister then met the volunteer crew of the Inshore Lifeboat and then went on board the All-weather Boat to get a tour of the boat and then experienced a launch as the crew took her out of the bay so she could see for herself, what the crew experienced when they went out on a shout.

The team at the station were delighted to meet the Minister and to have the chance to explain first-hand the importance of the work they do and the training that goes on behind the scenes.

Robin Cardwell LOM said

‘We were delighted to welcome the Minister to her local station and to give her an opportunity to see for herself the operations of a busy lifeboat station. We were thrilled that we had the opportunity to see the ALB in action to have a chat with the volunteer crew, operations team and fundraisers’.

The Minister said in a statement

‘The RNLI provides an invaluable service in keeping the public safe around our coastline. The men and women who volunteer to answer emergency calls in all weathers have helped save countless lives and I commend them for their dedication and commitment.
“The RNLI aims to reduce drowning by 50%, across the UK and Ireland by 2024. Given the dedication and enthusiasm I have seen demonstrated by the Portrush crew, I am confident that they will succeed.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Courtmacsherry RNLI All Weather Lifeboat was called out at 12.30pm this afternoon to go to the aid of a 40–foot Sailing Sloop 'in trouble' eight miles off the Old Head of Kinsale in West Cork.

Coxswain Sean O'Farrell and a crew of six launched in response to the Mayday alert from Coastguard and reached the casuality at 1.10 pm. The casualty with two persons on board had lost power in deteriorating conditions at sea and one of the crew person on board the yacht was also reported unwell.

The lifeboat succeeded in transferring its tow rope in difficult conditions to the casualty which was on passage from England to West Cork.

The Lifeboat took the vessel in tow and is heading at low speed to Kinsale.

Conditions at sea this afternoon are very poor with strong winds force 7/8 with very heavy swells. Winds in the area are blowing 35–knots and increasing.

The estimated time of arrival in Kinsale is approx 2.45pm

The RNLI crew are Coxswain Sean O Farrell and volunteer crew members Tadgh McCarthy (Mechanic), Mark Gannon, Ciaran Hurley, Ken Cashman, Mark John Gannon and Dave Philips.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat launched to assist four people after their 34ft–cruiser ran aground by the Scilly Islands on Lough Derg today. At 1.39pm, the lifeboat launched with helm Ger Egan, Lian Knight and Delia Ho on board. Winds was east-southeasterly, Force 3. Visibility was good.

The lifeboat located the vessel at the junction of Scariff Bay and Parker’s Point at 1.54pm. The four people on board were safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets. Once the lifeboat was satisfied the vessel was not holed, it was taken off the rocks and into safe water. The cruiser continued its onward journey once drives and rudder were found to be undamaged and in good working order.

Peter Kennedy, Deputy Launching Authority at Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat, advises boat users to ‘to bring charts with you and know the areas close to shore and islands marked as un-navigatable, particularly as water levels are low in the lake at the moment’.

The lifeboat returned to Station and was ready for service again at 3pm.

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Crosshaven RNLI lifeboat in Cork Harbour was requested to launch yesterday evening at 8.49pm after a report of a 9m RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) with two people on board hit a navigation Buoy near Tivoli in Cork City.

Reports also were given that one person was injured.

The volunteer crew made best safe speed on the 20 minute journey to the City. New information received en route stated the damaged RIB had managed to journey under its own power to Cork City marina, but was still requesting first aid help.

On arrival at the City Marina, the RNLI crew assessed the casualty who was complaining of chest injuries and administered first aid until the emergency ambulance arrived and conveyed the casualty to hospital.

The lifeboat then escorted the damaged RIB on its return journey to Crosshaven and assisted in putting the vessel alongside

The lifeboat arrived back at the station in Crosshaven at 10.50pm, where it was refueled, washed down and declared ready for service once more at 11.30pm

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
28th September 2016

Larne RNLI Rescue Two Kayakers

Larne RNLI has rescued two kayakers who got into difficulty off the County Antrim coast yesterday evening (Tuesday 27 September).

The volunteer lifeboat crew responded to a launch request from Belfast Coastguard at approximately 6.30pm following reports of two kayakers in difficulty at Ballygally Head.

The initial alarm was raised by a member of the public reporting two kayakers in trouble with one kayaker in the water.

Weather conditions were described as blowing a Force 3-4 wind with a slight swell and reduced visibility due to darkness falling.

Both Larne RNLI’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats launched at 6.42pm and the crews were quickly on scene. The casualties were located and recovered into the inshore lifeboat and were medically assessed by the crew.

Larne’s inshore lifeboat crew transferred the kayakers safely back to shore at Ballygally and into the care of the Coastguard while the all-weather lifeboat returned the kayaks to shore.

Speaking following the call out, Larne RNLI Coxswain Frank Healy said: 'The kayakers were located quickly this evening and returned safely to shore and we like to wish them both well following their ordeal.
‘Our volunteer crew train all year round to ensure when the pager sounds they are competent to complete any rescue and this training quickly swung into action this evening. We would like to commend the member of the public who contacted the Coastguard and we would urge anyone who sees someone in distress around the coastline to never hesitate in dialling 999 and asking for the Coastguard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Four teenage girls who got into trouble whilst swimming at Main Beach in Bundoran on Saturday (17th September) have issued an appeal to find the body boarders who helped them out of the water.

The girls were in the water just after 6.30pm on Saturday evening when they found themselves caught in a rip current. A member of the public dialled 999 and the Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat and Rescue 118 helicopter were both requested to launch by Malin Head Coast Guard. Within minutes the Bundoran Lifeboat was on the scene having made the short trip from the nearby station, however, on arrival the girls had already been helped to safety by a number of bodyboarders who were in the water at Main Beach at the time.

A number of RNLI volunteer shore crew, trained in Casualty Care, also attended the scene and assisted the girls until the arrival of the Sligo based Rescue 118 helicopter which landed in the Astoria Car Park.
As a precautionary measure, the girls were airlifted to Sligo University Hospital from where they were subsequently released after having been given an all clear.

Now the girls are appealing for their rescuers to come forward so that they may thank them in person.

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Page 10 of 66

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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