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Displaying items by tag: Lifeboats

The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI joined Aran Islands RNLI and the Shannon-based Rescue 115 helicopter to carry out a search of the waters around Bunowen Bay on Friday night (3 June).

A member of the public reported seeing a distress flare in the area around Bunowen, west of Ballyconneely in Connemara at midnight on Friday.

Shortly afterwards the crew - coxswain James Mullen with Andy Bell, Daniel Whelan, Owen Hayes and Conor Ryan — launched the new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat St Christopher for its first call on service since being brought to Clifden three weeks ago.

With good weather conditions and calm seas overnight, a full search of the area to the south east of Slyne Head was carried out over several hours.

As no evidence of a casualty vessel was found, the crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to stand down. The lifeboat was back at base at 4am where it was refuelled, cleaned down and made ready for the next launch.

James Mullen, Clifden RNLI coxswain said: “As a crew we are ready to respond 24 hours a day, whenever the pager goes. The search was stood down last night but it could have been a serious incident, it is so important to call the rescue services on 112 or 999 to report any concerns.

“We are grateful to the person who raised the alarm last night and thank the volunteer crew who sacrificed a night’s sleep to ensure a successful outcome.

“It is also worth reminding people that using fireworks in a coastal area can be mistaken for distress flares which will trigger an emergency response. Please notify the coastguard if you intend setting off fireworks anywhere near the coast.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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This week marks the end of an era at Wicklow RNLI as long-serving crew member and station mechanic Brendan Copeland officially retires from saving lives at sea.

Brendan’s last day started with a trip to Dun Laoghaire Harbour to bring Wicklow RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat back to station after a lift-out and hull clean.

While the lifeboat was departing Dun Laoghaire for Wicklow, a call came in regarding a motor cruiser that had suffered engine failure in Dublin Bay.

As Wicklow RNLI’s lifeboat was close by and the motor cruiser was drifting in busy shipping lanes and a danger to traffic at Dublin Port, the lifeboat diverted to assist and was on scene in minutes.

A tow line was quickly established and the cruiser was towed to the nearest safe port of Dun Laoghaire, where its occupants were safely landed ashore.

The crew then returned to Wicklow and Brendan quietly retired after 31 years with the RNLI, helping to save 23 lives and assisting over 334 people.

Brendan, a former lighthouse keeper with The Commissioners of Irish Lights, joined Wicklow RNLI as a volunteer in 1991. In the early years he served on both the all-weather and inshore lifeboats as a crew member and emergency mechanic. In 2007, Brendan was appointed Wicklow RNLI’s full-time station mechanic, a position he held for the last 15 years.

His role involved a wide range of duties that included maintaining the Tyne class lifeboat, Annie Blaker, a labour of love he continued up to 5 April 2019 when she was officially retired as the last operating Tyne class lifeboat in the RNLI fleet.

At the time, former lifeboat operations manager Des Davitt said: “I want to pay a special thanks to our station mechanic Brendan Copeland who looked after Annie so well for all these years. Her incredible life-saving record is a measure of how well she was maintained.”

When asked in April 2019 how he felt prior to Annie Blaker launching for the final time at Wicklow, Brendan replied: “You’re asking me if I’m sad or emotional today? I’m more than that, I’m heartbroken, to borrow a quote used for the Blasket Islanders, ‘the likes will never be seen again’.”

While the Tyne lifeboat had twin propellors with a top speed of 18 knots, the new modern Shannon class lifeboat which was to follow is capable of 25 knots and considered the fastest and most technologically advanced in the RNLI fleet.

To prepare for the arrival of the Shannon class, Brendan and a panel of mechanics travelled to Poole for training on the new jet-propelled lifeboat powered by two Scania engines. The training paid off and with great determination and huge commitment from Brendan and the crew, the Shannon went on service much quicker than anticipated.

Brendan has gone to sea on countless callouts during his time with the lifeboat and one shout that stands out to him occurred in the early hours of 22 March 2013 after a fishing vessel with three crew lost power and was in danger of being washed ashore east of Wicklow Head.

He recalled: “Annie was launched, and I can honestly say as we went around the pier the sea was boiling. We managed to get a line to the boat which was larger than Annie and towed it back to Wicklow; it felt like we were in a teapot that was being shook to make the tea stronger.”

For their actions in bringing the vessel and three crew to safety, Brendan and the crew received a letter of commendation from RNLI operations director Michael Vlasto.

Brendan took part in his last afloat exercise on the lifeboat last Saturday 28 May with his volunteer team deciding to mark this milestone for their much-loved mechanic, who has been a mentor, friend and the backbone of Wicklow RNLI for many years.

As the Wicklow lifeboat returned to station, a flotilla of local boats and Arklow RNLI’s lifeboat accompanied Brendan into Wicklow Harbour.

From the east pier the arrival was witnessed by a large turnout made up of Brendan’s family, friends and his lifeboat family, while a lone piper played as the boat passed and the Dublin based Coast Guard helicopter made a flypast.

As the lifeboat reached the south quay berth, local emergency services lined up in a guard of honour and sounded their sirens as the lifeboat passed. Brendan was overwhelmed and thanked everyone.

Commenting on Brendan’s retirement, Mary Aldridge, Wicklow RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “The crew and I wish you and Betty all the happiness in the world on your well-deserved retirement. You have provided excellent service as a community lifesaver with the RNLI since 1991; you will be severely missed at the station.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Following their two callouts on Monday, the volunteer lifeboat crew of Aran Islands RNLI were tasked again on Tuesday evening (31 May) to a woman in need of medical attention.

The Severn class all-weather lifeboat launched under coxswain in charge Sean Curtin and a full crew and headed straight from Inis Mór for the neighbouring island of Inis Meáin.

Conditions at the time of launch were good, with a northwesterly Force 3-4 wind blowing.

Once at the pier in Inis Meáin, the patient was transferred safely aboard and under the supervision of the volunteer crew, the lifeboat headed straight for Ros an Mhíl harbour and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, Curtin said: “The volunteer crew responded quickly to the call and we got the patient safely on her way to the medical attention needed. we would like to wish her a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Crowds turned out in the sunshine to see Fenit RNLI’s new inshore lifeboat officially named Lizzie this past weekend (Sunday 29 May).

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the new lifeboat is being named after Liz Fraser, a Southwark-born actress well-known for roles on stage and screen over a career spanning decades and who died in 2018.

Naming honours were given to Jan Bolt, the station’s administration officer and wife to late station mechanic Bob Bolt.

Guests on the day included the RNLI’s new head of region for lifesaving, Anna Classon, in her first visit to the Co Kerry lifeboat station as well and RNLI trustee and council chair Dr John Killeen, who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and presented it to the station.

The ceremony included a service of dedication which was presided over by Fr Francis Nolan and Rvd Jim Stephens. Musical accompaniment was provided by The Tralee Pipe Band; Oidreacht, managed by Michelle O’Sullivan; Fenit School Choir; and Dave Buckley. who performed the RNLI anthem ‘Home from the Sea’ to close the ceremony.

Tom McCormack, chair of the lifeboat management group and station medical advisor, was MC for the ceremony and opened proceedings by paying tribute to the donor and all fundraisers who support the work of the RNLI.

Dr Killeen acknowledged the incredible legacy gift by Frazer: “Being charitable was part of her nature. The legacy that she has left behind and which is here today, will go to sea to save lives for many years to come.”

Fenit’s new inshore lifeboat with the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 overhead | Credit: RNLI/Terry SheehyFenit’s new inshore lifeboat with the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 overhead | Credit: RNLI/Terry Sheehy

He also spoke of the work of the men and women who volunteer for Fenit RNLI. “When we talk about lifesaving in the RNLI, there are two parts to it. One is the lifeboat, and the other is the volunteers. There is a fantastic history of lifesaving here in Fenit. We value and appreciate the work being done on behalf of the community.”

In accepting the lifeboat into the care of the station, Fenit RNLI lifeboat operations manager Gerard O’Donnell said: “This is a great and proud day for us. We are very sad to say farewell to our past lifeboat, the Sonya and Bradley, which served us well for the past 12 years and we look forward to writing a new era in the history of Fenit lifeboat station with this new lifeboat which has been gifted to us.

“This boat, along with the all-weather lifeboat which we already have, helps provide a great service here to the Tralee Bay and extended areas.”

O’Donnell concluded by addressing the lifeboat crew of Fenit RNLI, past and present: “Over the years you have given of your time consistently, irrespective of weather conditions which at times can be horrendous. Day or night, you have never failed to respond when the pager has been activated.

“To all our past and present, members of our RNLI station, be proud of the service you provide, be proud of the countless lives you have helped to save and finally on behalf of all users of the sea and inland waters, thank you for being there to help save those who get into difficulty on the water.”

Following the naming of the lifeboat, the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115 carried out a training exercise with the new D-class lifeboat to the delight of the watching crowds.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew were twice requested to launch on Monday (30 May).

The first callout came from the Irish Coast Guard at 2pm following a report of a small inflatable boat broken down off Doolin.

The volunteer crew under coxswain Sean Curtin were ready to launch the all-weather Severn class lifeboat when the call came through that the inflatable had made its way safely ashore.

The second callout came at 10.05pm when a man visiting the islands overnight was in need of medical assistance.

With the patient transferred safely aboard, the lifeboat launched under Curtin and a full crew and proceeded straight for Ros and Mhíl’s harbour and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking later, Curtin said: “We would like to wish the patient a speedy recovery. On both occasions the volunteer crew turned up without hesitation.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Wicklow RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launched just after 9.55am on Sunday morning (29 May) to reports of a motorboat with two onboard that was in difficulties south of Wicklow Harbour.

Three minutes later the lifeboat was on scene, where the motorboat’s owner could be seen using a boat hook to keep it from being washed up onto the rocks under the Black Castle amid challenging conditions, with a northeasterly Force 3-4 wind.

The inshore lifeboat got close enough to transfer a line to the motorboat, and it was quickly hauled out to sea and away from danger.

A towline was then established and the motorboat was towed the short distance back to Wicklow Harbour. The two men were landed safely ashore on the south quay at 10.22pm, none the worse after their ordeal.



Speaking after the callout, Wicklow RNLI lifeboat press officer Tommy Dover said: “A speedy response by the inshore lifeboat crew in challenging conditions resulted in a good outcome today.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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RNLI crews from Kilkeel in Co Down and Clogherhead in Co Louth launched to the aid of seven people and a dog last week after their 80ft tall ship ran aground in Carlingford Lough.

The lifeboat volunteers launched their inshore and all-weather lifeboats at 3.30pm on last Tuesday 24 May following a report that a vessel had run aground on a falling tide earlier in the day close to Narrow Water Castle while on passage from Newry to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland’s North Antrim coast.

Greenore Coast Guard and Kilkeel Coastguard were also tasked. But with no one in immediate danger, a decision was made to hold off on launching the lifeboats to assist until the tide came up.

With the rising tide, the ship began to take on water quickly so upon arrival, lifeboat crew transferred on board with two salvage pumps to take the ingress out.

The seven crew of the tall ship and the dog were transferred onto their smaller inflatable tender which was safely escorted to Warrenpoint Harbour by Clogherhead RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat.

Meanwhile, two more pumps were put aboard the vessel and after two-and-a-half hours the ship became level with the sea again. Subsequently the tall ship was towed into the channel where it was able to continue under its own steam to the nearest safe port at Warrenpoint Harbour escorted by both lifeboats.

Speaking following the callout, Kilkeel RNLI helm Gary Young said: “Thankfully, no one was in any immediate danger, but the ship’s crew safely moved to their tender once the vessel began to take on a lot of water as the tide rose.

“There was great teamwork between ourselves and our colleagues from Clogherhead RNLI and Greenore Coast Guard. We had to work quickly to get the salvage pumps on and to remove the ingress of water which we were delighted to see working in order to save the vessel.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI launched to the aid of four people across three callouts on Strangford Lough over the weekend for the Northern Ireland volunteer lifeboat crew.

The first call came just after 1am on Saturday morning (28 May) when a spoken-word mayday was picked up by Belfast Coastguard reporting an incident on Strangford Lough. There were no other details provided.

Helmed by Chris Adair and with three crew members onboard, the inshore lifeboat was launched for a search of the Portaferry shoreline. The HM Coastguard helicopter Rescue 199 from Prestwick was also tasked.

After three hours of searching and with nothing found, the lifeboat was stood down and the incident was declared a false alarm with good intent.

The second callout came at 4pm on Saturday after Belfast Coastguard reported that a person on a small punt had got into difficulty in shallow waters.

After emerging from the vessel and attempting to drag it to shore, the person had reportedly got stuck in mud in Cadew Bay, south of Whiterock on Strangford Lough.

The lifeboat helmed by Adair launched and made its way to the scene, where approach was made tricky by the low water conditions.

Portaferry and Bangor Coastguard mud rescue teams were also tasked and helped bring the person and their boat ashore, and the RNLI volunteers were subsequently stood down.

The lifeboat crew were called out once again on Sunday morning (29 May) at 5.21am following a report that a 30ft yacht with three people onboard that had run aground outside Portaferry Marina.

Adair again helmed the lifeboat along with three crew members and after assessing the situation on scene, they decided the best course of action was to establish a towline and bring the grounded vessel to the nearest safe port at Portaferry Marina.

Speaking following the three callouts, Portaferry RNLI’s lifeboat press officer Jordan Conway said: “This has been a busy weekend for our volunteer lifeboat crew and we would like to commend them and out colleagues in the coastguard for their efforts in going to the aid of those in difficulty.

“We would also like to commend the person who raised the alarm with good intent for the first call out. While nothing was found, we would always much rather launch and find nothing rather than not launch at all.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

On Thursday afternoon (26 May) Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI to launch to assist a lone skipper on a 30ft cruiser with engine failure.

The vessel was reported to be adrift south of Marker E at the Goat Road and north of Marker D by Illaunmor on the lake’s eastern shore.

Lough Derg’s inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched at 3.54pm with helm Keith Brennan, Eleanor Hooker, Joe O’Donoghue and Richard Nolan on board. Weather conditions had a westerly Force 4/5 wind, gusting Force 6, with good visibility.

Around 15 minutes later the lifeboat had the casualty vessel in sight at the location given by the coastguard. By this point the westerly wind had pushed the vessel onto the shore.

With the benefit of local knowledge, volunteers were aware there was clear water at the casualty vessel’s location south of the Goat Road. Nevertheless, a crew member took soundings off the bow of the lifeboat while another used the onboard navigation tools to plot a safe route to the casualty vessel.

Once alongside, the lifeboat established that the skipper was safe and unharmed and wearing his lifejacket. An RNLI crew member transferred across to assess the vessel and, having established that it had not suffered damage, was requested by the helm to set up for a tow.

Given the location and the rough conditions, the helm decided that the safest option was to take the vessel into safe water and reassess the engine.

Once towed to safety, the cruiser’s engine started without issue and all drives and rudder were found to be in good working order. The cruiser then made way towards Dromineer under its own power, while the lifeboat headed back towards the station.

Minutes later, the lifeboat was hailed again by the coastguard to report that the cruiser was having further engine problems. This time a tow was set up to bring the vessel to the public harbour in Dromineer, where it was safety tied alongside shortly after 6pm.

Speaking later, Aoife Kennedy, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users “to have your engines serviced before going afloat and ensure you to replace old fuel with fresh fuel. Remember to carry an anchor with sufficient warp.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Skerries RNLI were tasked Wednesday morning (25 May) by Dublin Coast Guard following 999 calls reporting a paddle boarder in distress in the water off Bettystown beach.

Shortly before 11.30am the volunteers in Skerries launched their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson. The crew plotted a course for Bettystown beach and proceeded as quickly as possible through difficult weather conditions.

Dublin Coast Guard had also tasked the Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116, and just as the lifeboat was arriving on scene they had begun winching a woman from the water.

She had been blown out to sea on her paddle board and was reportedly exhausted and very cold.

Rescue 116 then landed on the beach and with the assistance of Drogheda Coast Guard Unit the woman was transferred to an awaiting ambulance.



To prevent any hazards to navigation, or any additional 999 calls regarding the paddle board, Dublin Coast Guard requested its recovery and the lifeboat subsequently located it just over a mile away before returning to station.

Speaking about the callout, Skerries RNLI’s Gerry Canning said: “This is a great example of all the rescue services working together to ensure the best possible outcome.

“We would advise anyone intending to be on or near the water to check the weather and tides for the local area.”

Published in Rescue
Page 3 of 133

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