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A Donegal cyclist is set to embark on a mammoth world-record cycle attempt, riding unsupported from Malin to Mizen — a 1,225km route from one end of Ireland to the other — and back.

The gruelling non-stop ride is set to be a test of endurance but also a fundraising effort from Karol McNern from Ballyshannon, who is a former lifeboat crew member and helm at Bundoran RNLI.

The Co Donegal lifeboat station is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year while the charity is marking its 200th anniversary.

Karol’s ambitious ride aims to break both the World UltraCycling Association (WUCA) record and a Guinness World Record, drawing attention to the lifesaving work of Bundoran RNLI.

The funds raised will go directly to supporting the work of the volunteer crew in saving lives at sea.

Karol said: “Having served as a crew member and a helm, I know first hand the importance of the lifeboat service to a community. This ride is my way of giving back and raising awareness for the incredible work all the Bundoran team do.”

The ride will commence at Malin Head, the northernmost point of Ireland, continue onto Mizen Head, the southernmost point and then return back up the country to Malin Head.

Karol will face various challenges including unpredictable weather conditions, rugged terrain and the sheer physical and mental demands of cycling non-stop across such a vast distance. He will continue this journey unsupported, making it an even tougher challenge.

Supporters can make a donation and follow Karol’s progress through live updates on social media and contribute to his fundraising campaign.

Daimon Fergus, Bundoran RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “We are incredibly grateful to Karol for thinking of us in this way and we wish him the best of luck as he takes on this challenge. His journey is an inspiration to us all and highlights his dedication, resilience and a sense of community spirit.

“Donations from Karol’s cycle will go towards helping us maintain our lifeboat and associated equipment as well as supporting the training of our crew members, and the overall operational costs.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI joined the Strangford ferry service and Portaferry Coastguard on Sunday morning (9 June) for a planned man-overboard exercise on Strangford Lough.

The exercise focused on an alert that one, then two people had fallen overboard. There was a Force 4-5 light westerly breeze at the time and a slightly choppy sea.

The ferry crew nominated spotters to track the location of the casualties in the water while their Strangford II rescue boat was launched with three crew onboard.

The importance of loud and precise instruction was demonstrated, and the first casualty was brought out of the water by the ferry’s rescue boat within minutes.

Portaferry RNLI’s volunteer crew launched promptly when contacted by the coastguard and were able to locate the second casualty quickly.

Once they were lifted out of the water, the volunteer lifeboat crew assessed their condition before both were brought to shore and handed over to Portaferry Coastguard, who continued casualty care alongside RNLI volunteers.

Portaferry RNLI and HM Coastguard Portaferry continued with casualty care once ashore | Credit: RNLI/Heather KennedyPortaferry RNLI and HM Coastguard Portaferry continued with casualty care once ashore | Credit: RNLI/Heather Kennedy

The exercise was observed by representatives from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and both the senior and principal engineers from the Strangford ferry service.

After a detailed debrief of the exercise, everyone involved enjoyed breakfast in Portaferry lifeboat station.

Captain Robert Anderson of the Strangford ferry service said: “The exercise went well and highlighted the difficulty of retrieving a casualty from the water.

“It was a valuable hour, and good to have cooperation from both the RNLI and HM Coastguard providing a more realistic scenario rather than our usual drills. The ferry crew responded quickly, worked as a team and gained experience.”

Heather Kennedy, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager added: “It’s important that anyone visiting open water understands the risks of the environment.

“As we approach the summer holidays, we want everyone to enjoy being around the water, but also want to make sure people stay safe and know what to do in an emergency.

“Check weather and tide times before venturing out, always wear a lifejacket or suitable flotation device for your activity and always carry a means of communication. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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At 10.55pm on Friday evening (7 June), Enniskillen RNLI’s inshore lifeboat John and Jean Lewis was launched at the request of Belfast Coastguard to assess a boat with six people onboard, which had encountered difficulties while making its way from Enniskillen in the direction of Castle Archdale.

Weather conditions at the time on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland were blowing a westerly Force 3 wind and visibility was poor.

The volunteer crew located the casualty vessel which had run aground on rocks close to Marker 58R1. The crew assessed those onboard and found them to be safe and well and wearing lifejackets.

The crew then made the decision to tow the vessel to the nearest safe jetty as the casualty vessel could not make good progress without assistance.

Speaking following the call-out, Enniskillen RNLI helm Paul Keown said: “Now that we are in the summer season, we would urge all boat owners to carry out regular maintenance checks on your vessel, make sure you have the relevant charts required before starting your journey, lifejackets for all on board and a means of calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble.

“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

Youghal RNLI’s volunteer crew in East Cork were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 4.03pm on Sunday (9 June) to assist a sailor onboard a 35ft yacht that had suffered steering failure some two miles south of Mine Head Lighthouse.

The request came from the Irish Coast Guard following a report that a sailor had been experiencing problems with steering and requested assistance.

Weather conditions were cloudy with a moderate breeze and a choppy sea state.

Around 20 minutes after launching, the lifeboat crew arrived on scene and located the vessel. One crew member boarded the boat and assisted the sailor to rig an emergency steering tiller, which was successful in getting the vessel moving.

Upon further assessment of the situation, a decision was made that the lifeboat would escort the sailor to the safety of Helvick Head harbour in Co Waterford.

Helvick Head RNLI’s lifeboat later launched and once on scene, one crew member went onboard the casualty vessel and the lifeboat from Helvick Head then escorted the sailor back to the safety of the harbour.

Youghal RNLI was stood down and their crew member was transferred back to the lifeboat which then returned to station.

Speaking after the call-out, Youghal RNLI helm Liam Keogh said: “The owner of the boat made the right decision in calling for help as soon as they experienced difficulty, allowing both lifeboats to assist in returning the sailor to safety.

“Anyone can experience difficulty once on the water so we encourage everyone to carry a means of communication before heading out to sea. Should you get into difficulty, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A Wexford woman living on the Hook Peninsula has been inspired to create a new fundraising initiative for the RNLI, which also promotes the benefits of being by the sea.

Local artist Helen Mason, who is married to a local fisherman, started to raise funds for the lifeboat charity after experiencing losing someone close to her to drowning and seeing first-hand the work of the lifeboat volunteers in her area.

Be by the Sea is asking people to organise a gathering in their own community during the summer months, to fundraise in aid of the charity that saves lives at sea.

People can organise to meet for a swim, a walk or a hike or they may choose to meditate, fly kites, or build sandcastles. They can even just sit together enjoying a coffee and having the craic.

Commenting on the fundraiser, Helen said: “I had the idea to do this for some time before I finally approached the RNLI and asked them if I could do it myself and see where it goes.

“I have been raising money for my local lifeboat station in Fethard over the years and I have seen first-hand the work they do and know how important the lifeboats are for coastal communities. The volunteers who go out when others come home are incredible people and I want to help them continue their work, saving lives at sea.

“I’m married to a fisherman and sadly we have lost people close to us. I want the Be by the Sea fundraiser to be open to everyone and to be fully inclusive. We know that people love spending time near the water and that the sea is very good for us, so how about raising funds for the RNLI at the same time.”

Be by the Sea, is a ‘Fundraising In Aid of’ event for the RNLI and those interested to learn more can visit the initiative’s JustGiving page where they can also register their event with the RNLI. Once onboard, people can choose to share their photos and videos of their event to Instagram.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Lough Derg RNLI were requested to launch by Valentia Coast Guard on Saturday afternoon (8 June) to locate and assist a swimmer reported to be in difficulty by a member of the public on shore.

The bystander could see the swimmer’s yellow buoyancy aid and through binoculars perceived that the swimmer was struggling. The location given was in Youghal Bay, east of Garrykennedy Harbour.

At 12.52pm, Lough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew James Corballis, Chris Parker and Joe O’Donoghue on board. Conditions had a north-westerly Force 3-4 wind with good visibility.

The lifeboat carried additional casualty blankets on board, and during the briefing as the lifeboat launched, volunteers prepared their casualty care cards.

At 12.58pm, as the lifeboat rounded the Mountaineer, navigation mark C, Valentia Coast Guard communicated that the swimmer had been located and was back on shore, and the lifeboat could stand down.

Aoife Kennedy, launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises swimmers to “swim safe — if you get in trouble in the water, Float to Live. Lean back, extend your arms and legs and control your breathing. Before setting out, make sure someone knows where you are and carry a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.”

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Lough Ree RNLI volunteers were on the water to four boats in difficulty on the lake within the span of seven days.

Just before 4pm on Sunday (2 June) Lough Ree RNLI was requested by the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a cruiser which was in difficulty and taking on water at Quaker Island, off the Longford shore.

In very good weather conditions, the inshore lifeboat launched under volunteer helm Kieran Sloyan and crew Liam Sheringham, Stewart McMickan and Amy O’Connor.

Upon reaching the scene at the northern end of the lake at 4.35pm, the crew examined the stricken vessel and despite pumping water off the boat, the problem persisted.

In the interest of safety, it was decided to take the boat under tow to the safety of a boatyard in Lanesborough.

While on this call-out, the lifeboat crew were advised of another craft with four people on board stranded north on Beam Island at the southern end of Lough Ree.

On arrival at the scene, the volunteer crew found that a passing private boat had assisted and the lifeboat remained on standby while the grounded cruiser got to safer water.

On Friday afternoon (31 May), Lough Ree RNLI was called to assist two people on board a boat which had run aground on Green Island.

Under helm Sloyan and a volunteer crew consisting of Ruth Costello, her brother Billy Henshaw Jr and Patrick Walsh, the lifeboat launched at 2.35pm and reached the scene 15 minutes later to find both people on board safe and well.

Following an inspection of the boat and an assessment of the scene, the boat was safely recovered from the rocks and continued under its own power.

Earlier last week, on Tuesday (28 May) Lough Ree RNLI assisted two people on board a cruiser which had ruin aground at Fat Island.

On assessment of the scene, volunteer helm Liam Sheringham along with fellow crew Patrick Walsh and Billy Henshaw Jr decided to evacuate the boat, take the two casualties on board the lifeboat Tara Scougall and transfer them to the lifeboat station at Coosan Point. The stricken boat was anchored and secured.

An interesting aspect of the weekend call-outs was that two new female crew, Ruth Costello and Amy O’Connor, both were on their first ‘shouts’ as crew members.

Lough Ree RNLI volunteer lifeboat operations manager Kevin Ganly said: “It is brilliant to see new crew members, especially women, taking their place on the lifeboat and making such an important contribution to our community. We look forward to having many more join them in the next 12 months.”

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In a joint operation, Rosslare Harbour and Kilmore Quay RNLI in Co Wexford came to the aid of a lone sailor early on Tuesday morning (4 June) after an 8.5m yacht got into difficulty.

The volunteer crews were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboats by the Irish Coast Guard following a report from the sailor that their yacht had developed engine failure.

Rosslare Harbour’s all-weather lifeboat was launched at 7.20am under coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke and with six crew members onboard, and the crew made their way to the scene one mile south-east of Carnsore Point.

Arriving on scene, the crew assessed the situation and with the vessel found to be without power and drifting, it was decided to establish a tow in order to bring the sailor to safety.

The yacht was then towed towards the nearest safe port at Kilmore Quay, where the Kilmore Quay lifeboat crew took charge and towed the yacht to safety at 9.55am.

Speaking following the call-out, Jamie Ryan, Rosslare Harbour RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager said: “We would like to commend the sailor for raising the alarm when they knew they were in difficulty. That is always the right thing to do and we wish them well.

“We also want to thank our colleagues from Kilmore Quay who completed the call-out and brought the sailor safely to shore. This was a good example of an effective joint operation with our flanking lifeboat station.

“As we approach the summer months, we encourage anyone planning a trip or activity at sea to always go prepared. Check weather and tides before venturing out, carry the right equipment for a safe journey including a means of communication. Always wear a lifejacket or suitable flotation device for your activity. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Carrybridge RNLI’s inshore lifeboat launched on Sunday evening (2 June) at the request of Belfast Coastguard to assess an eight-metre vessel with four people on board which had lost steering south of Crom Castle.

Winds were north-westerly Force 2 and visibility was excellent when the lifeboat volunteers set out shortly after 8pm and proceeded to the casualty vessel’s last known location.

On arrival, they found the vessel’s owner using its engine to avoid grounding. They assessed the wellbeing of the casualties on board and found them to be safe and well.

Upon assessing the vessel, the lifeboat crew found that it had lost all means of steering which rendered it from being able to proceed.

The lifeboat helm deemed the safest option would be to set up a tow and bring the casualty vessel back to the safest public jetty at Carrybridge, to remove it from the navigation channel and avoid it running aground.

One crew member from the lifeboat was placed on board the casualty vessel to assist, and the casualties were handed over to the Lough Erne Coastguard team at Derryad jetty.

Less than 24 hours previously, at 11.04pm on Saturday night (1 June), Carrybridge RNLI was requested to launch for a search following a potential sighting of a red distress flare.

A member of the public reported what they believed to be a flare some two miles south-east of Carrybridge. The lifeboat crew searched the water and the shoreline in this area but found nothing. The coastguard called off the search at 11.55pm and the crew returned to station.

Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI advised all boat users: “Before setting out on your journey please plan your route taking note of your location as you travel. Have a means of calling for assistance, have lifejackets for all on board and plan your journey using the relevant charts.

“As more people start to enjoy the waterways, if you see a red distress flare, 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.”

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On Saturday afternoon (1 June), Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to launch to locate, assess and escort to safe harbour a vessel that a member of the public reported had made contact with rocks at Ryan’s Point.

Lough Derg’s inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched at At 13.41pm with helm Owen Cavanagh, crew Joe O’Donoghue and Deirdre Gleeson on board. Conditions had a north-westerly Force 2 to 3 wind and good visibility.

A description of the craft, which was en route to Dromineer Harbour, was passed to the lifeboat, which made a quick sweep of the public harbour but did not see a vessel that fitted the description given.

The lifeboat made way to Ryan’s Point but there was no vessel at that location. The RNLI volunteers spoke to the skipper of a vessel at anchor in the centre of the bay, but they had not seen a vessel in distress.

After returning to the public harbour, the lifeboat crew located a motor boat that fitted the description supplied to Valentia Coast Guard. The vessel had recently passed Ryan’s Point but, according to the skipper, had not made contact with rocks and was not in need of assistance.

The lifeboat reported its findings to Valentia Coast Guard, departed the scene and was back at station at 2.18pm.

Christine O’Malley, lifeboat operations manager at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users to “observe the navigation marks and be aware that there are sudden shallows and rocky shoals close to the shore”.

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