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Union Hall RNLI volunteer Brian Crowley has received an Excellence in Volunteering Award from the RNLI for his hard work, dedication to and promotion of the charity that saves lives at sea.

Unfortunately due to pandemic restrictions, the lifeboat station could not present him with his award in person but hopes to mark this achievement next year.

“This is such an achievement as Brian is volunteering with the RNLI for ‘only’ 66 years so far,” said Pamela Deasey, Union Hall RNLI’s press officer.

“He was asked then to join by Mrs Bridges in Glandore, and he said ‘Yes’ straight away. As a young man growing up in Union Hall, he was aware of the dangers of the sea, and he wanted to raise awareness and help raise vital funds for the service.”

Brian was well-known throughout West Cork at the time as he used to co-own the ever popular Crowley’s Hall in Union Hall, where many a West Cork couple met — his first undertaking as fundraiser was a dance which was a tremendous success.

He became secretary of Leap, Glandore and Union Hall branch in 1976 as well as filling in a lot of other roles, until the current branch set up in 1997.

“Words like dependable, trustworthy, selfless and courageous are the ethos of the RNLI and Brian has proved to be a great ambassador having these qualities in abundance,” Pamela added.

“This is not Brian’s first award, as he also received his silver badge for fundraising in 1985 and a gold badge in 2003. He has many a story to tell about all his years service and all the tremendous characters he has met along his way.”

Speaking following news of the award, Mick McKenna, chair of fundraising at Union Hall RNLI, said: “Everyone at Union Hall RNLI would like to firstly congratulate Brian for this much deserved award, and secondly thank him for all his time, efforts and dedication throughout all these years, in helping to raise vital funds for the RNLI. We are all extremely proud of his achievements.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Sligo Bay RNLI’s volunteers were called to the rescue of four swimmers in difficulty off Rosses Point yesterday afternoon, Sunday 22 November.

The four women, who were all seasoned swimmers, were caught in a swell when trying to get back ashore.

A number of onlookers on the beach called for the emergency services and both Sligo Bay RNLI’s lifeboat and the Irish Coast Guard’s Sligo-based helicopter Rescue 118 were dispatched to the scene.

One of the four swimmers managed to get ashore unaided in the meantime, while one other was rescued by the volunteer lifeboat crew who administered casualty care en route to the lifeboat station where she was passed into the care of an ambulance crew.

The other two casualties were airlifted to safety by the crew of Rescue 118. All four swimmers were taken to Sligo General Hospital for assessment, as Sligo Bay RNLI reports.

Aisling Gillen, Sligo Bay RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat press officer, said: “We received a lovely message from one of the swimmers last night to thank us for saving their lives which was very kind and we would like to wish them all well.

“Seasoned open water swimmers have a great deal of experience and do observe proper safety precautions. However, the dangers this time of the year far outweigh the challenges that apply in summer. Cold water and currents can tire a swimmer quickly and make it harder to return to shore.”

One hour after this incident, the Sligo Bay lifeboat crew received a second call — this time to a surfer in difficulty at Strandhill, but who was able to make his own way ashore as the lifeboat stood by.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Galway Harbour father and son Patrick and Morgan Oliver have recorded another rescue, saving a swimmer who got into difficulty off Salthill on Saturday morning.

The Olivers were fishing off Salthill in Galway Bay on Saturday morning when a swimmer was spotted taking refuge on Palmer’s Rock, about 200 metres from shore.

The alarm was raised by a member of the public, and the father and son took the man on board and brought him to Galway docks.

The swimmer was standing on Palmer’s Rock, about 200 metres from shore The fishermen arrived on scene and took the swimmer to Galway Harbour for treatment for symptoms of hypothermia Photo: Kevin O'Connell

The man was taken into the Galway RNLI station where he received treatment for symptoms of hypothermia until an ambulance arrived.

The father and son were given a mayoral award several months ago for their rescue of paddleboarders Ellen Glynn and Sara Feeney off the southernmost Aran island of Inis Oírr in mid-August after 15 hours at sea.

Several weeks after that, the Olivers rescued a man from the river Corrib.

Their relatives, Martin and Tom Oliver, who were also fisherman, lost their lives after an accident in the bay early this month.

The Galway RNLI lifeboat was launched in Saturday’s incident, and two members of the lifeboat crew also made their way to Salthill promenade to assist.

Galway RNLI deputy launch authority Seán Óg Leydon said many people who have taken up sea swimming this year during the Covid lockdown may not realise the dangers of winter swimming.

“The sea is a great resource for us but we have to respect it and our limits. Luckily this swimmer made his way to a place he could rest and wait for assistance,” he said.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Over the past number of weeks, there has been a noted increase in the number of incidents in relation to open water swimming resulting in increased demands being placed on SAR organisations including Coast Guard and RNLI. Over the past week, eight separate incidents arose in the Dublin Wicklow area alone, with a number of other incidents being reported around the country. Most people who participate in open water swimming do so safely but some and in particular those who are new to the sport may be unaware of important safety measures which can help them avoid getting into difficulty.

Mindful of the increased level of participation in open water swimming and an increased demand being placed on SAR services, the Coast Guard and the RNLI are asking the public to familiarise themselves with key safety measures before engaging in the activity. Open water swimming is a relatively safe activity when done with the correct knowledge and some preparation. Also, those who are new to the sport can protect their own well-being by observing some key safety precautions.

Commenting on the increase in activity Coast Guard Head of Operations, Gerard O’Flynn said, ‘At the outset, we are grateful that anybody who sees someone in trouble or thinks they may be in trouble, dials 112 and alerts the Coast Guard. Seasoned open water swimmers have a great deal of experience and do observe proper safety precautions. However the dangers this time of the year far outweigh the challenges that apply in summer time.’

RNLI Water Safety Lead Kevin Rahill added, ‘Cold water and currents can tire a swimmer quickly and make it harder to return to shore. Lifeboat crews are seeing a lot more callouts to people who are taking part in water based activities by themselves and while it is great to enjoy our beautiful waters, this time of year, the water temperature drops and of course it is dark for longer.’

The Coast Guard and RNLI have shared the following safety advice for swimmers, highlighting the dangers of swimming alone and the importance of being monitored from the shore.

  • Always check the weather forecast and understand the local effects of wind, tides and currents.
  • Never swim alone and have somebody ashore who is familiar with your plans and ideally can observe your progress.
  • Only swim in sheltered areas with which you are familiar and swim parallel to the shore.
  • Ensure that you are visible from the shore. Wear a brightly coloured swim cap or use a tow float to increase your visibility in the water.
  • Wearing a wetsuit is advisable to help stay warm.
  • Slowly acclimatise to cold water to reduce the risk of cold water shock.
  • Get warmed up afterwards. Wrap up well in extra layers of clothing
  • If in doubt, don’t go out!
  • Tell someone else where you’re going and when you are due back.
Published in Coastguard
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Wicklow RNLI lifeboat Station is pleased to announce that Mary Aldridge has taken on the volunteer role of Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) following the recent retirement of Des Davitt.

As Lifeboat Operations Manager Mary will now be responsible for managing all operational activities at the RNLI station, as well as authorising the launch of the lifeboats.

Mary Aldridge joined Wicklow lifeboat Station as a volunteer Deputy Launching Authority four years ago. With a keen interest in aquatic sports and surf lifesaving, Mary was always interested in volunteering with the Lifeboat over the years.

As a member of An Garda Siochana for over 30 years, Mary was transferred to Wicklow from Dublin in 2007, and was the Inspector in Wicklow District until she retired in 2014.

During that time, as part of her garda role and responsibilities, she worked as Liaison Inspector for County Wicklow for Major Emergency Management. It was in this capacity that she got to know many of the crew at Wicklow Lifeboat Station and the other Emergency “Blue Light” Services.

Mary also has International experience as she served with the United Nations Civilian Police with the United Nations in Former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR) for 12 months during the Balkan conflict in 1993/1994.

Mary is living in Wicklow for the past 20 years and is an avid sea swimmer. She regularly competes in Open Water competitions in the Leinster Open Sea Series and with Wicklow SC. She is a former Secretary and Vice Chairperson of Wicklow Swimming Club.

Speaking about her new volunteer appointment, Mary said: “I am really looking forward to my new role as Lifeboat Operations Manager at Wicklow Lifeboat Station. I have big shoes to fill in replacing Des Davitt. I wish Des and Angela all the best and an enjoyable retirement.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The RNLI says its volunteer crews faced an “unprecedented” summer as statistics reveal a big increase in callouts to people in distress compared to the same time last year.

Based on provisional incident reports from lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, the RNLI says there was a 64% jump in the number of recreational water users its crews aided.

RNLI lifeguards around the UK also reported an increase in the number of visitors to beaches around the coast as coronavirus lockdown measures eased between June and August.

The newly released figures cover people who got into difficulty while bodyboarding, using inflatables, kayaking, or canoeing, kitesurfing, paddle boarding, rowing, surfing, swimming, waterskiing, windsurfing and dinghy sailing.

This summer, 177 water users were aided while kayaking or canoeing, an increase of 84 people in comparison to 2019.

The number of people who needed help from RNLI lifeboat crews after getting into difficulties on inflatables more than doubled, the charity adds.

Stand-up paddle boarding, and increasingly popular sport, saw a 40% rise in lifeboat launches and the number of casualties assisted almost tripled.

Lifeboat crew callouts to swimmers were up by 14%. And launches to people who got into trouble while walking or running at the coast over the summer increased by 46%, with 175 more people aided in comparison to last year.

The RNLI’s head of water safety, Gareth Morrison, said: “Our volunteer crews have been on call throughout the pandemic. This year, they faced a summer like no other.

“When lockdown restrictions eased, we saw people flock to the beaches to enjoy our coastlines instead of holidaying abroad. But that resulted in a huge number of people getting into difficulty around our coasts, with our lifesavers facing an incredibly busy summer.

“If you find yourself in trouble at the coast this winter, call 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

The RNLI has spent £1.2 million (€1.34 million) this year on PPE to keep its lifesavers and the public safe during the coronavirus crisis, including almost 700,000 face masks, 2.4 million gloves and 4,700 litres of hand sanitiser.

Additionally, RNLI shops were closed, and fundraising events were cancelled, costing the charity that saves lives at sea potentially millions in lost income.

The RNLI relies on the support of the public to continue saving lives, and that support is needed now more than ever. To support its Christmas Appeal visit RNLI.org/Xmas

Kilkeel RNLI launched to the rescue a windsurfer who got into difficulty off Cranfield Point on Saturday (14 November).

The volunteer crew set out on their inshore lifeboat at 3.25pm on Saturday as part of a multi-agency tasking that also involved Kilkeel Coastguard, Greenore Coast Guard and the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 from Dublin.

Onshore, Kilkeel Coastguard had spotted the sail of the windsurfer just north of Carlingford Lough’s shipping channel and directed lifeboat helm Gerry Smyth towards the casualty, who had been one of a group of eight.

The other seven members of the group had made it safely to shore. In Force 5-6 winds and in a moderate sea, the casualty and his gear were taken onboard.

The exhausted casualty was checked by the lifeboat crew for injury, water inhalation and the effects of the cold conditions. He was then made comfortable and brought safely ashore. The lifeboat returned at 4.15pm where the grateful surfer was met by Kilkeel Coastguard.

Speaking following the callout, Kilkeel’s lifeboat operations manager John Fisher said: “The crew did everything in a thoroughly professional manner and we would like to wish the casualty well.

“Because of Covid-19, the crew have been restricted in their training exercises but this afternoon they demonstrated their skills with this rescue also highlighting how well multiple agencies work together.”

The crew readied to launch for a second time over the weekend at 2.15pm yesterday (Sunday 15 November) following a call that an EPIRB had been activated.

However, after an extensive local onshore search it was found that the EPIRB was faulty and was located in a boat owner’s garage.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

 Operations Manager at Wicklow lifeboat Station since 2004, has retired after 27 years volunteering with the RNLI.

Des joined the RNLI Wicklow committee in 1993, becoming vice chairman in 1995 and taking charge of all fundraising for the branch with support from the Ladies Guild.

Des was chairman of the appeal committee who raised funds for the provision of a new inshore lifeboat and an extension to the boathouse to house the new lifeboat in 1996.

The appeal was so successful that the target figure was reached with 6 months still to run. In all £64,000 was raised by Des and the Committee, which covered the cost of the D Class lifeboat Inbhear Deas and the extension to the boat house.

In 2001, he was awarded the bronze badge for his services to fundraising. Three years later, he took over the new position of lifeboat operations manager – formerly honorary secretary – from the retiring Kevin Desmond. Fundraising then became separate from Operations.

In 2016 Des was awarded inscribed binoculars in recognition of his long service to the RNLI. As lifeboat operations manager, Des was responsible for all operational activities at the station and over the years has seen the arrival of a ‘state of the art’ Shannon Class lifeboat and the retirement of the last Tyne class boat in the RNLI Fleet. Over the last year Des has ensured Wicklow Lifeboat Station remained operational at all times during the Covid-19 restrictions.

Wicklow RNLI Press Officer, Tommy Dover said: ‘We would like to thank Des for his commitment to Wicklow Lifeboat Station over the past 27 years and we wish him all the best on his retirement. Unfortunately, due to the present Covid-19 restrictions we were unable to give Des a proper send off, but the crew hope to meet up for a farewell pint with him in the not too distant post Covid future.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Galway RNLI's deputy launching authority (DLA) has appealed to people not to try to swim ashore if caught in a tidal situation while walking. 

Paul Carey, DLA at the Galway station, issued his appeal after the rescue of a man and a woman who were caught by spring tides in Galway on Sunday evening. 

The two had walked out to Seaweed Point between Blackrock and Silverstrand which is accessed at low tide.

The spring tide took them by surprise and submerged their access back, according to the station.

Galway RNLI lifeboat launched at the request of the Irish Coast Guard at 4.43pm after the alarm was raised by a member of the public.

"Unaware that the lifeboat was on its way, one of the two took the decision to swim ashore to call for help," the station says.

"He was met at the shore by a member of the lifeboat shorecrew and confirmed there was another person still stranded, which was relayed to the lifeboat.

"Upon arrival, a lifeboat crew member searched the area, located the other casualty who was sheltering from the winds, and took her onboard the lifeboat.

"Both were brought back to the lifeboat station at Galway docks where they were assessed. They did not require medical attention," the station says.

“We would never recommend anyone to attempt to swim ashore," Mr Carey said afterwards.

"If people do get caught in circumstances like this they should remain on land and not attempt to swim ashore until the rescue services arrive," he advised.

The Galway RNLI helmsman Dave Badger was with crew Brian Niland, Dave McGrath and Ross Forde on the callout.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Just three days after the return of Newcastle RNLI station's D class lifeboat, Eliza, after a refit, in the late afternoon yesterday, Belfast Coastguard requested the immediate launch of the both the station's Lifeboats to reports of an overdue swimmer in the vicinity of the Inner Dundrum Bay area at at Murlough Beach.

The swimmer had got separated from his friend. Coastguard teams from Newcastle, Kilkeel and Portaferry, police officers from Newcastle and Downpatrick and the Coastguard helicopter from Valley, in Wales were also involved in the search.

Dundrum Outer Bay lies east of Newcastle in south County Down. The Outer Bay is a wide gently shelving bay, and the Inner Bay is an estuarine lagoon, connected to the Outer Bay by a tidal channel.

The search extended from Murlough Beach, around Dundrum inner bay to Tyrella Beach in difficult conditions with a strong, cold onshore wind.

Over two hours after he went missing the swimmer was found by Police Officers on the beach at Ballykinler Army Base, having been swept away from Murlough and across the bay before coming ashore. The man was taken to hospital.

The rescue was coordinated by Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre.

This story was updated on November 17 with up to date details of the rescue operation

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