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An inshore D class lifeboat for Courtown RNLI is to be officially named Frank during a ceremony at the lifeboat station in the Wexford town at 3pm tomorrow, Saturday 28 May. The lifeboat which went on service in January 2020 is funded by the late Frank Watkin, and his wife Kathleen, who together shared a love for the sea and sailing in particular.

Frank and Kathleen were married in Bishopstoke in England after Frank’s work took him from the Ford Motor Company office in Essex to the Ford Transit manufacturing factory in Southampton. He soon decided he preferred Hampshire to Essex and when the couple were married, they bought a yacht which was kept in Chichester Harbour where they spent many happy and exciting ventures both around the harbour and into the Solent.

After Frank died and with no immediate known relatives, Kathleen had a decision to make with what she wanted to do with her inheritance. With a passion for the sea and sailing, she visited the RNLI Support Centre in Poole and after what she described as an educational and exciting trip, she was captivated and decided she wanted at that point to put some funds into the charity that saves lives at sea rather than wait until she passed away.

At the same time, the next lifeboat being built was waiting for funds and was partially constructed at the RNLI boatyard in East Cowes on the Isle of Wight. It was arranged for Kathleen to visit and see the lifeboat she would later name Frank, in the final stages of its construction. She was joined by good friends Martin and Liz Bandey who Frank and she met via their local Rotary Club and with whom the couple had enjoyed their love for the sea.

Talking about that trip and the lifeboat’s subsequent arrival in Courtown, Kathleen said: ‘It was very interesting and one of the best things I had done in years, and I am glad she (Frank) has arrived safely in Ireland. I have a love for Ireland – I used to work for Aer Lingus many, many years ago.’

While Kathleen won’t be able to travel to Courtown tomorrow, her wish to have a lifeboat named after her husband Frank will be granted. She will be represented at the ceremony by the couple’s good friends Martin and Liz.

The D class Frank replaces the Caird Au Chuain which served Courtown RNLI for over 10 years. During that time, the lifeboat launched 50 times bringing 61 people to safety, four of whom were lives saved.

Speaking ahead of the naming ceremony, Sam Kennedy, Courtown RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘This is a very special occasion for our station and we are most grateful to Kathleen and her late husband for this generous gift in his memory which has funded this lifeboat, Frank.

‘Frank and Kathleen had a love for the sea and sailing and while she can’t be here today, it is important to us to know that Kathleen was able to see the lifeboat before she arrived here at her new home in Courtown.’

The D class inshore lifeboat has been the workhorse of the RNLI for over 50 years.

First introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1963, the design of the inflatable D class continues to evolve to meet changes in demand and technology.

The lifeboat is highly manoeuvrable and usually operates closer to shore than all-weather lifeboats. It comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations – often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.

A lifeboat station was originally established in Courtown in 1865 when a station was opened at the request of local residents and a boathouse was constructed at a cost of £200. A new Peake class lifeboat Alfred and Ernest which was built in 1852, was placed on service. The station was closed in 1925 before the RNLI established an inshore lifeboat station in 1990 with the placing of a D class lifeboat for evaluation purposes. The old boathouse was later repurchased and a new D class lifeboat was placed on service the following year.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Baltimore RNLI was called out to provide assistance to a yacht with one person onboard that got into difficulty off the coast of the West Cork town on Saturday evening (21 May).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 6.12pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the aid of a 29ft motor yacht, with one person onboard, which was propped on a pot line 1.5 miles southwest of Kedge Island off Baltimore Harbour.

Conditions at sea during the call were choppy with a south westerly Force 3-4 wind, a 1.5m sea swell and good visibility.

Arriving at the casualty vessel at 6.25pm, the lifeboat put volunteer crew member Stuart Musgrave aboard the casualty vessel to assist the lone sailor.

Musgrave was able to free the yacht from the line coming from the bottom of the sea, but there was still rope wrapped heavily around the propeller that couldn’t be freed.

Lifeboat helm Kieran Collins decided that a tow was necessary, and by 6.50pm the boats were under way proceeding to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port, where they arrived at 7.20pm. Once the casualty vessel was secured at the pier, the lifeboat returned to the station.

This was the second callout of the week for Baltimore RNLI, after the station’s all-weather lifeboat responded to a medevac call to Sherkin Island on Thursday 19 May.

Speaking following the weekend response, press office Kate Callanan said: “If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coast Gguard.”

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat for this callout, with Micheal Cottrell and Kieran O’Driscoll alongside Collins and Musgrave.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI has hailed as a great success its first ‘Lap the Lake’ charity cycle.

The local lifesaving charity’s fundraising branch organised the 130km cycle around Lough Derg for last Saturday 8 May, which saw 250 cyclists take part in its most ambitious event to date.

And the day was blessed by good weather and good cheer as it raised significant funds that are essential for the lifeboat station’s lifesaving activities.

The 130km route around Lough Derg — covering counties Tipperary, Clare and Galway — gave participants the opportunity to delight in the outstanding beauty of the lake and the River Shannon.

Their safety and wellbeing were well catered for with first-aid providers, out-riders, marshals and bike maintenance stops along the route, as well as comfort and refreshments stations.


Niamh McCutcheon, chair of the Lough Derg RNLI Fundraising Committee and the ‘Lap the Lake’ Event Committee, said the inaugural event “was enjoyed by cyclists from all over Ireland. The friendly welcome provided by the marshals, RNLI crew and the enthusiastic and well-organised committee was much appreciated by all.”

McCutcheon thanked Lough Derg Yacht Club and all the sponsors of the event, whose generosity also ensured its success. Meanwhile, the fundraiser remains open for donations via its JustGiving page.


Feedback from participants praised the attention to detail, safety and comfort; a compliment to the organisational skills of Niamh McCutcheon, Pat Kelly, Caleb and Laura Clarke, Tom Sanders, Anne Atkinson, Bob O Brien, John MacMahon, Sarah Langham and Ted Knight on the Lough Derg RNLI Fundraising Committee and Veronica Plunkett, Ena Butler, Hilda Hamilton, Joe Hughes, Johnathan Horgan, Laura Clarke and Niamh McCutcheon on the Lap the Lake Event Committee.

RNLI lifeboat helm Owen Cavanagh and crew members Doireann Kennedy, Joe O'Donoghue, Ciara Moylan, Ania Skrzypczynska and Ciara Lynch, who worked in shifts throughout the day, brought the lifeboat Jean Spier to the public harbour in Dromineer and to other harbours around the lake and were pleased to answer questions about the RNLI, its lifesaving work and the lifeboat itself.

The fundraising committee thanks the many other members of the Lough Derg Lifeboat Station who played major roles in the success of this event. In particular, Aoife Kennedy, lifeboat administration officer and deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat Station, who assisted with the registration of participating cyclists and acted as liaison between the fundraising committee and the lifeboat station throughout the event; Chris Parker (Lough Derg RNLI crew member) who acted as safety officer; Peter Kennedy (DLA and station mechanic) and Caleb Clarke (hon treasurer) who dressed the yacht club in RNLI bunting; Christine O’Malley (lifeboat operations manager), Liam Moloney (DLA) and Peter Kennedy who remained on hand to coordinate the lifeboat;s manoeuvres; and Richard Nolan (Lough Derg RNLI crew member) and Peter Harty (RNLI area lifesaving manager) who both cycled in the event.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Bangor RNLI’s volunteers came to the rescue of six women on a yacht after its engine failed during a passage to Glenarm in Co Antrim.

The inshore lifeboat Jessie Hillyard was launched on Monday morning (9 May) from Belfast Lough to the yacht’s location just off Donaghadee Sound, in choppy seas and a strong breeze.

One of the women on the yacht reported being seasick but she did not require a medical evacuation.

With the yacht under good control with just a headsail, the lifeboat kept a safe distance until the vessel entered the calmer waters of Ballyholme Bay.

There, volunteer crew member John Bell transferred to the yacht and attached a tow line, staying with the vessel until it was safe in Bangor Marina.

The women later showed their appreciation by presenting the crew with a bag of chocolate cookies, which went down well after the lifeboat had been refuelled, washed down and readied for its next service.

Speaking following the callout, Bangor RNLI helm Jack Irwin said: “On arrival at the scene, we were happy that our assistance was not required immediately, and we shadowed the vessel until we were in calmer waters, where we initiated our tow.

“We were delighted to deliver those onboard to the safety of Bangor Marina, where the staff were waiting to assist with mooring.

“As we head into the summer months, now is a timely time to remind anyone planning a trip to sea to check your vessel's engine and ensure it is well maintained before setting off on a passage.

“Always carry a means of calling for help and let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Larne RNLI in Northern Ireland launched to the aid of a group of paddle boarders who were caught in an offshore breeze at the weekend.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by Belfast Coastguard at 2.09pm on Sunday (8 May) following a report that five people on two paddle boards were struggling to get back to shore.

The lifeboat was launched from East Antrim Boat Club into a moderate sea with an offshore breeze and made its way to the last reported location of the group at the entrance of Brown’s Bay off Islandmagee.

Having located the casualties and their paddle boards towards the middle of Brown’s Bay, the lifeboat crew observed that the offshore breeze was blowing both boards out to sea and that the group were having difficulty trying to return to safety.

Two of the group managed to make their own way back to the beach unaided, while the remaining three were transferred into the lifeboat.

Upon returning the casualties and their paddle boards to Brown’s Bay beach, they were handed into the care of Portmuck’s coastguard team.

Speaking following the callout, Larne RNLI helm Scott Leitch said: “We are very grateful to the member of the public who realised that something was wrong and called 999 and asked for the coastguard and we were delighted to help.

“As the weather gets warmer and more people travel to the coast, we would remind everyone planning a trip to sea or an activity on the water, to always carry a means of communication so they have a way of contacting the shore and to always wear a lifejacket or flotation device.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Courtmacsherry RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Frederick Storey Cockburn was called out at 10.15pm on Wednesday night (4 May) to join a search off Garrettstown and Garrylucas beaches near the Old Head of Kinsale in West Cork.

Members of the public noticed a person swimming alone offshore, and an item of clothing was located at the beach some time later.

The lifeboat, with a crew of five under coxswain Mark Gannon, was underway within minutes and proceeded in the dark of night to the area of the search.

The lifeboat reached the area within 15 minutes and commenced a detailed search of the waters and coastline alongside the Kinsale RNLI inshore lifeboat and the Old Head/Seven Heads Coast Guard unit. The search was joined later by the Irish Coast Guard’s Waterford-based helicopter Rescue 117.

A thorough search was undertaken using the powerful search lights, night vision and parachute flares from the lifeboat and the heat detection sensors of the helicopter, while the coastguard unit on the water combed the shoreline at Garrettstown and Garrylucas.

At 12.30am, when nothing was located and gardaí had carried out detailed enquiries ashore, the Valentia Coast Guard Marine Co-Ordination Centre called off the search and the lifeboat and the other rescue services returned to their bases.

Brian O’Dwyer, Courtmacsherry RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager said: “It was great to see the fast response of so many of our voluntary crew tonight when their bleepers activated which ensured that we were at the scene very quickly.

“It is so important to call the rescue services at 112 or 999 quickly once any incident like this occurs as the various rescue services are always at the ready 24 hours a day and great credit is due to the concerned people that raised the alarm last night.”

The Courtmacsherry volunteer lifeboat crew involved in this call out were Coxswain Mark Gannon, duty mechanic Dave Philips and crew members Ken Cashman, Peter Nunan, Denis Murphy, Evin O’Sullivan and Dean Hennessey.

Helvick Head RNLI's Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Aoife DuffyHelvick Head RNLI's Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Aoife Duffy

Elsewhere on the same night, Helvick Head RNLI in neighbouring Co Waterford was requested to launch its inshore lifeboat following a report that a swimmer was in difficulty in Dungarvan Harbour.

With calm waters and little to no wind, the volunteer crew launched following the request by the Irish Coast Guard at 9.02pm. It followed a report that a swimmer was in difficulty between the Lookout in Dungarvan Harbour and Cunnigar Point.

The lifeboat, helmed by Alan Kelly and with crew members Joe Foley, Shane Walsh and Paidi Breathnach onboard, made its way to the scene. However, the lifeboat was shortly stood down as it transpired the swimmer wasn’t in difficulty and had reached the shore successfully.

Speaking later, Helvick Head RNLI deputy launching authority Sean Walsh said: “This callout turned out to be a false alarm with good intent but we would commend the person who raised the alarm as we would always much rather launch and find that all is safe and well, than not launch at all.

“On the first official week of summer, we would like to remind people if they are planning on going in the water that Dungarvan Harbour is renowned for its rip currents and can catch even the most experienced swimmers out. If you’re caught in a rip, stay calm, don’t panic. Don’t swim against it but rather parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then make for shore.

“We would also like to remind visitors and people new to our shores that the RNLI has a range of translated safety messages and advice in many languages which are available to download.

“If you do get into difficulty or see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The volunteer crew of Aran Islands RNLI on Inis Mór were requested on Tuesday evening (3 May) to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat to go to the aid of a patient on the neighbouring island of Inis Meáin.

Under coxswain John O'Donnell with a full crew onboard, the lifeboat launched for the medevac around 6pm in good weather conditions, with a southwesterly Force 3-4 wind, calm seas and good visibility.

Once at the pier in Inis Meáin, the patient was brought safely aboard the lifeboat by the crew and then transferred directly to Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance on the mainland.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “This was a great response time from the volunteer crew who are always there to help anyone in need. We would like to wish the patient a speedy recovery.

“With the summer season fast approaching and the weather improving, we would advise anyone heading to the coast to heed all weather and safety advice.

“If you are planning a trip to sea, always wear a lifejacket or suitable floatation device for your activity, always carry a means of communication and let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back.

“Should you get into difficulty, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Clifden RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew joined in a multi-agency response to an incident at Clifden Quay yesterday (Tuesday 26 April) where a casualty was injured in a fall from the quayside onto a boat some 15-20ft below.

Mechanic Joe Acton and crew member Andy Bell were in the area carrying out vessel maintenance and responded to the incident with the RNLI Sillinger boarding boat.

The Sillinger is a light and small boat which is usually used to access the Shannon class all-weather lifeboat but it is very suitable for use in shallow water.

The two crew members manoeuvred the boarding boat into position to allow paramedics to access the casualty and transfer him to the ambulance which was waiting at the quay.

The casualty was subsequently airlifted by the Air Corps helicopter 112 to University Hospital Galway for further treatment.

Clifden RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Brittain said: “This is a great example of multi-agency cooperation between the RNLI, HSE/National Ambulance Service, Clifden Fire Service, An Garda Síochána, the Coast Guard and the Air Corps.

“This call demonstrated great teamwork and decision-making and we all wish the casualty a speedy recovery.”

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Skerries RNLI were tasked shortly before 11am yesterday morning (Monday 25 April) following a 999 call to Dublin Coast Guard from two kayakers who were stranded on Shenick Island off the North Co Dublin town.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson was quickly launched and the volunteer crew navigated their way around the headland and past Colt and St Patrick’s islands before heading towards Shenick.

After its crew quickly spotted the two men on the foreshore of Shenick island, the lifeboat was carefully manoeuvred into the shallow waters on the western side of the island and two volunteers waded ashore to check on the condition of the casualties.

One of the men had been in the water for some time after his kayak capsized and he lost his paddle. As a result, he was suffering badly from the cold and was beginning to show signs of hypothermia.

The lifeboat helm decided that the best course of action was to get the man ashore and out of the elements as quickly as possible.

He was transferred into the lifeboat by the crew and in order to speed up the evacuation, one member of the crew stayed on the island with the second man, who was feeling fit and well, to assist him in recovering their kayaks from the far side of the island.

The lifeboat brought the casualty to the beach at the lifeboat station, where he was met by shore-crew volunteers who provided him with blankets and brought him into the boathouse.

In the meantime, the lifeboat returned to Shenick Island to pick up the remaining volunteer and the second man. Their kayaks and equipment were also loaded on to the lifeboat and returned to shore.

After spending some time in the station warming up, the man was soon feeling much better and did not require any further medical assistance.

An Irish Defence Forces RIB was also in the area at the time as the Air Corps are currently undergoing exercises in Gormanston. They also made their way to Shenick Island and stood by to offer any assistance if required.

Weather conditions at the time had a Force 3-4 easterly wind with a slight swell and good visibility.

Speaking about the callout, volunteer press officer Gerry Canning said: “The men made the right call in getting themselves ashore wherever they could and calling for help.

“One of the men had his mobile phone in a waterproof case which proved very important in this instance and we continue to encourage people to always carry a means of contacting the shore in case they need assistance.”

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Usually, it’s the lifesavers of the RNLI who answer Mayday calls – it’s the most serious call for help. But this May, they need the public’s help.

The charity is calling on the people of Achill and its diaspora to support Achill Island RNLI lifeboat crew’s Mayday Mile to help raise vital funds to keep people safe this summer.

Organised by the island’s lifeboat crew, the Mayday fundraiser will see the volunteers rowing a distance of one mile from their lifeboat station in a small flotilla including a currach, some kayaks and other watercraft commonly seen in the pristine waters around Achill Island.

The crew will be carrying their pagers with them so they can respond to a call for help, should the need arise.

Funds raised through Mayday fundraising events will make sure that RNLI lifesavers have everything they need to keep families safe on the water and RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews will drop whatever they’re doing when a call for help comes in.

Eilish Power, Achill Island RNLI’s press officer says: “Summer is our busiest time of year, with thousands of people visiting the area and enjoying the water. A call for help can come from anywhere, from people enjoying days out with family or friends or the medical evacuations on our surrounding islands that our volunteer crew facilitate.

“Mayday is our own call for help, as we rely on the generosity of the public to support events like the Achill Island RNLI lifeboat crew’s Mayday Mile, and raise the funds that allow us to be there when we’re needed most.

“But we need to be ready. Training, kit, stations, fuel: these are just some of the things we need to save lives, and that your fundraising can help provide.”

The RNLI’s Mayday national fundraiser begins on Sunday 1 May and will run for the whole month across Ireland and the UK.

You can show your support for the Achill Island RNLI lifeboat crew’s Mayday Mile by giving what you can via the donation page, and visit the station’s Facebook page for details.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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