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A busy weekend for Kinsale RNLI continued on bank holiday Monday (7 June) when the inshore lifeboat launched twice to assist boats in difficulty.

Miss Sally Anne Baggy II - Never Fear, Baggy’s Here launched at 2.45pm to assist the 20ft sailing boat with two people on board, which was taking on water and in danger of sinking off the Old Head of Kinsale.

After assessing the situation, the lifeboat crew transferred one of their number onto the bow of the stricken vessel to raise the hull and slow the ingress of water.

This stabilised the boat, which was taken under tow and brought safely to Kinsale’s main pier.

Lifeboat helm Jonathan Connor said: “The two people on board played it by the book and were able to give the coastguard the necessary information to enable us to quickly find them.

“One had radio training and both were wearing lifejackets, which are essential if you are going on the water.”

A few hours later, the volunteers answered their fourth emergency callout of the bank holiday weekend when the lifeboat was tasked to assist a yacht that had lost its mast.

The inshore lifeboat was on the way at 6pm to assist the 26ft vessel with two people on board just south of the harbour mouth.

After ascertaining that the passengers were uninjured, two lifeboat crew members boarded the yacht and secured the mast before it was safely towed back to Kinsale Harbour.

Kinsale RNLI’s Connor, who was helm on all four callouts over the weekend, added: “We expected the sunny weather and easing of restrictions to bring more people to the Kinsale area, but we were quite surprised to be called out four times in such a short period.”

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Portrush RNLI on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast was requested to launch twice this weekend to reports of people in difficulty.

The first request by HM Coastguard was on Saturday evening (5 June) when the inshore lifeboat was launched to reports of a kayaker in difficulty at the Skerries.

Visibility was excellent, with a calm sea and a light wind, and the lifeboat volunteers quickly located the kayaker.

It was soon established that the kayaker was very experienced and had taken all precautions, so all was well. The call was deemed a false alarm with good intent.

The second shout was on Sunday afternoon (6 June) at 12.50pm when the all-weather lifeboat was called to assist with a potential medevac after reports of two people caught on a ledge at the Giant’s Causeway.

Again, weather conditions were good, with excellent visibility and a light north-easterly wind.

Before the lifeboat reached the scene, the local coastguard team had located the two people and were able to carry out the rescue without assistance.

Beni McAllister, lifeboat operations manager at Portrush RNLI, said: “This is our fourth launch since Thursday for our volunteer crews and we have no doubt that this will be the pattern for the summer.

“However, it seems that people are heeding the safety message in terms of dialling 999 and alerting the coastguard if they see something that doesn’t look right.

“We would rather be safe than sorry, especially as more and more people are enjoying our beautiful beaches.”

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Kinsale RNLI’s inshore lifeboat took part in a multi-agency rescue yesterday morning (Saturday 5 June) after a crew member spotted a man in the sea in a remote area close to the Old Head of Kinsale.

The lifeboat was on a routine training exercise off Garretstown beach at 9am when crewman David Carter saw the exhausted casualty being repeatedly swept back off the rocks.

Volunteer lifeboat helm Jonathan Connor immediately alerted Valentia Coast Guard to request helicopter assistance as sea conditions prevented the lifeboat from reaching the casualty.

RNLI volunteers Jon Hynes and Colum O’Sullivan entered the water and swam in to help the man to safety and assess his medical condition, with the Old Head coastguard unit and Kinsale Garda also on the scene.

The Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter Rescue 115 was tasked from Shannon and winched the man aboard to take him for further medical treatment.

Kinsale lifeboat volunteer David Carter who spotted the casualty on the rocks | Credit: RNLI/KinsaleKinsale lifeboat volunteer David Carter who spotted the casualty on the rocks | Credit: RNLI/Kinsale

Lifeboat helm Jonathan Connor said: “He is a very lucky man as David spotted him by pure coincidence. We have no idea how the man entered the water, but he was alone in a fairly remote area so it is unlikely anyone else would have seen him and raised the alarm.

“We are all relieved that we decided to train in that area this morning, and that we were able to work with the other emergency services to bring the casualty to safety.”

Shortly after returning to Kinsale lifeboat station, the crew launched for a second time in response to concerns for the safety of a person on board a small inflatable RIB who had been at sea for longer than expected in the area of the Sovereign Islands.

Rescue 115 was also tasked, along with members of Oysterhaven and Summercove Coast Guard units. The vessel was located and escorted back to the safety of Oysterhaven.

Connor added: “We urge everyone who is going on or near the water this Bank Holiday weekend to exercise extreme caution as the water is treacherous, despite the sunshine.”

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Portrush RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was launched this afternoon (Thursday 3 June) to reports of stand-up paddle boarders in difficulty off Ramore Head.

Due to the fact that the crew had already assembled for some training, they were able to launch immediately just before 3pm.

Conditions were optimal on Northern Ireland’s North Coast today, with excellent visibility and a smooth sea but a strong offshore wind which made it difficult for the five paddle boarders to return to shore.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene, three of the boarders were alongside a local fishing vessel and the lifeboat crew picked the remaining two up.

All five paddle boarders were transferred to the lifeboat and brought back to Portrush Harbour before 3.30pm, where they disembarked exhausted but otherwise well.

Beni McAllister, lifeboat operations manager at Portrush RNLI, said: “These paddle boarders were lucky, in that the offshore winds were quite strong and the five were exhausted trying to get back to shore.

“The local fishing boat was on scene and assisted until the lifeboat arrived. The fact that we had a crew ready to go meant we could respond very quickly.

“We would ask anyone planning a trip to sea to check the weather conditions, especially tides and winds to make sure it is safe to go out. Always have a means of communication with you and make sure someone knows when you will be expected back.”

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Last Sunday morning members of the Lough Derg RNLI Fundraising committee and the Lifeboat station welcomed Joe Barry, uilleann piper and writer, to the Station.

A long time supporter of the RNLI, Joe presented a cheque for €2,600, proceeds from the sales of his third book 'Once Upon a Piper’s Time', to Niamh McCutcheon, Chairperson of the Lough Derg RNLI Fundraising Committee. Joe, whose book was first published in November 2019, had intended to present the cheque in 2020, but the pandemic prevented him doing so. He was accompanied by fellow musicians, Martin Shot and Cillian Roche, from the Thomas MacDonagh Pipe Band.

As a founder member of the Thomas MacDonagh Pipe Band in 1962, Joe and his band have performed around the world. They have played for President Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin, at the St.Patrick’s Day Parade in New York and at a commemoration ceremony on the beaches at Normandy. Closer to home, Joe, who plays the uilleann and highland pipes, led the Thomas MacDonagh Pipe Band at the opening ceremony for the Mirror World Sailing Championships at Lough Derg Yacht Club.

Joe says he first started fundraising for the RNLI following a Christmas visit to Kilmore Quay twenty-five years ago. He went there to hear the famous Kilmore Carollers and learned that the choir were all volunteers with the Kilmore RNLI lifeboat. After the service, Joe says he was invited by RNLI volunteer, the late Jack Devereux, to see the station and learn about lifeboat launches. He says since that time he has had a ‘deep respect for the brave men and women of the RNLI’.

On behalf of her fundraising committee and all the volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI, Niamh McCutcheon thanked Mr. Barry for his ‘ongoing generosity and support’. Niamh noted that although the pandemic had restricted fundraising activities, the RNLIs lifesaving operations have continued without interruption. Niamh told Joe that his donation-supported ‘volunteers training and equipment, and ensures our crew have the very best kit’ to perform a rescue and to then bring them home safely to their families, whom they must leave every time they respond to a Shout.

Niamh reminded the assembled group that in 2009 Joe donated €3,000 to Lough Derg RNLI; the proceeds from his first book Ate Mate and Follow the Band. Niamh commended Joe’s cousin ‘John Crowe and his wife Phyllis who underwrote the total printing costs of the book and Joe’s previous books so that all funds raised are benefitting the RNLI’. Celebrating a big birthday recently, Joe asked that instead of gifts, friends and family made donations to the RNLI. Niamh has since received a further €100 after another ten copies of the book were sold.

Prior to the presentation, the fundraising committee provided refreshments, with kind permission, on the balcony of Lough Derg Yacht Club. Crew arrived back to station just as the presentation was being made and Joe was delighted to meet the volunteers and to see the lifeboat, Jean Spier, on the water.

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Portrush RNLI on Northern Ireland’s North Coast launched to two shouts yesterday (Sunday 30 May) in a busy start to the spring bank holiday weekend.

The inshore lifeboat was first requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard at 5.33pm yesterday evening to reports of a male entering the water at the East Strand.

Despite the heavy traffic and bank holiday crowds in the town, the volunteer lifeboat crew was able to launch at 5.40pm and was on scene four minutes later. Weather conditions were perfect with clear skies and excellent visibility.

The lifeboat arrived to assist the coastguard at East Strand, and the male was subsequently taken into the care of the PSNI.

While on this call, the lifeboat volunteers were alerted to a missing child also on the East Strand. The child was located very quickly and the inshore lifeboat returned to station at 6.10pm.

Beni McAllister, lifeboat operations manager at Portrush RNLI, said: “We are delighted to see visitors back on our beaches after the periods of lockdown, but we would ask members of the public to be careful when at the beach and observe safety precautions.

“Our RNLI Lifeguards are on duty and are only too happy to give advice about enjoying the beach safely.

“Also, children can wander off very quickly and can get lost on a busy beach, so we would ask parents to keep a close eye on their children, as we can appreciate the panic this can generate when a child goes missing.”

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Portaferry RNLI launched to the aid of a person who had fallen at Ardglass Harbour, on Northern Ireland’s east coast, early yesterday morning (Sunday 30 May).

Pagers sounded for the volunteer lifeboat crew at 6:54am after HM Coastguard requested the launch of the station’s inshore lifeboat Blue Peter V for the man who had been angling on the sea wall before his fall.

The lifeboat helmed by Chris Adair and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately and was on scene within minutes. Weather conditions at the time were good with calm seas and winds at Force 0.

When on scene, the lifeboat crew accessed the situation and stood by as safety cover due to the position of the casualty.

Also in attendance was the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and coastguard teams from Kilkeel and Newcastle in Co Down.

Having assessed that the sea angler was safe and well, the volunteer crew were then stood down and returned to station at 8.30am.

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Pagers sounded for Largs RNLI’s volunteers yesterday afternoon (Thursday 27 May) after reports over VHF radio of a vessel on fire off Inverkip, on the Firth of Clyde in western Scotland.

The inshore lifeboat made best speed to the scene shortly after the 2.15pm alert, and on arrival learned that another boat had taken the crew from the casually vessel had them in tow to nearby Inverkip Marina.

It was established the crew of the casualty vessel had extinguished the fire and as the danger was now over, with no injuries reported, the lifeboat returned to station.

Much earlier yesterday, off Scoland’s east coast, Stonehaven RNLI launched the aid of a sailing vessel with engine problems.

The vessel was heading north under sail and had reached Dunnottar Castle, just south of Stonehaven, when the wind dropped at around 1am. Attempts were made to start the engine, but these were not successful.

The crew of the inshore lifeboat Jamie Hunter escort a sailing vessel with engine trouble into Stonehaven Harbour | Credit: RNLIThe crew of the inshore lifeboat Jamie Hunter escort a sailing vessel with engine trouble into Stonehaven Harbour | Credit: RNLI

As concerns grew that the tide might pull the boat towards the rocky coast, the UK Coastguard called out the station’s inshore lifeboat Jamie Hunter, which was launched at 4am.

After reaching the vessel and confirming its two crew members were safe and well, Largs RNLI put mechanic Paul Sim on board to assess the situation and he was able to get limited power from the engine — which allowed the vessel to be escorted into Stonehaven Harbour just after 7am.

Speaking just after the callout, lifeboat helm Andy Martin said: “It was certainly an early morning pager call for our volunteer crew, and they quickly got to the scene.

“It had the potential to become quite dangerous for the sailing vessel, but Paul’s mechanical experience and expertise came in very handy.

“We are pleased to have been able to help and the situation worked out with everyone recovered safe and well.”

In other lifeboat news from Scotland, Tobermory RNLI launched on Wednesday (26 May) following a report of a semi-submerged kayak with a dry bag in Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan.

File image of Tobermory RNLI’s Severn Class lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Sam JonesFile image of Tobermory RNLI’s Severn Class lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Sam Jones

Stornoway Coastguard confirmed that the kayak had been reported to have been washed out to sea from Loch Scavaig on the Isle of Skye and that there were no missing persons.

The lifeboat crew recovered the kayak and dry bag and transported them to Kilchoan where they were left in the care of the local Coastguard Rescue Team.

The shout came six days after a callout to a yacht which had lost its drive in the Sound of Mull last Thursday evening, 20 May. The lifeboat met the yacht at the entrance to Tobermory Bay and, using an alongside tow, assisted it to berth at the harbour pontoons.

Tobermory RNLI station coxswain David McHaffie said: “In both of these incidents, the people involved made the correct call and contacted the coastguard so that we were able to respond in good time. We would much rather be called out too early than too late.”

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A group of open water swimmers who were rescued after getting caught in a rip current have raised over £1,000 for Larne RNLI.

The swimmers were safely recovered to the shore before action was required by the station’s lifeboats in the incident in late March at Ballygally Beach, on the East Antrim coast in Northern Ireland.

But following the incident, the swimmers at Ballygally Chilli Dippers Open Water Swimming Group felt they would like to do their bit to help the charity.

On Sunday last (23 May), some of Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew along with lifeboat operations manager Allan Dorman and members of the fundraising team, went to Ballygally Beach where a cheque for £1,016 was presented by the Chilli Dippers.

Recalling the events from March, Sharon Hamilton of the swimming group said: “The sea conditions changed very quickly that evening and within seconds of going in, a few of us were taken out to sea and out of our depth by a rip current.

“We all had our floats and to begin with we were within our depths. Our intention that evening was to have a quick swim, however once we were caught in the current the fight was too much for us to get back to shore. Luckily help came just in time.”

Speaking about the increase in open water swimming, Sharon said: “The pandemic and lockdown has sent lots of us running to the sea for therapy and exercise, but safety needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

“Never swim alone, use a float, carry a whistle and check tide times and learn how to spot a rip current. Thankfully the fast-acting members of the Chilli Dippers, pulled together and got everyone safely back to the shore just as the RNLI were launching.

“The response I got from my Facebook post highlighting the need for sea safety was overwhelming, so I decided to turn it around and ask for a small donation from anyone who had liked or shared the post. The response was amazing and a grand total of £1,016 was raised within a week.”

The fundraising efforts of the Chilli Dippers come at a time when the RNLI is asking for donations as part of its annual Mayday fundraising campaign.

Larne RNLI’s Dorman said: “We are so grateful to Sharon and all the Chilli Dippers for thinking of us, raising much needed funds to help us to continue to save lives at sea, all while spreading the importance of water safety as well.”

There is still time to take part in with the Mayday Mile. Walk, run, cycle, or cover one mile however you would like and then donate online to the RNLI at RNLI.org/supportMayday

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Portaferry RNLI launched to the aid of two sailors late last night (Tuesday 25 May) after their yacht broke down a mile off the mouth of Strangford Lough.

Pagers sounded for the Northern Ireland volunteer lifeboat crew at 11.10pm after HM Coastguard requested the launch of the station’s inshore lifeboat Blue Peter V.

The crew were informed that the yacht, with two sailors onboard, had lost power and with no navigation lights was in difficulty north of the Fairway buoy, itself north of the Strangford Bar.

The lifeboat, helmed by Chris Adair and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately and was on scene within minutes in good conditions with moderate seas and a Force 3-4 wind.

Having assessed that the two sailors were safe and well, the lifeboat crew quickly established a towline and, at the request of the sailors, the yacht was towed into Portaferry.

Speaking following the callout, Adair said: “The sailors did the right thing last night and having carried a means of communication, they were able to call for help when they knew they were in difficulty.

“Without hesitation, our lifeboat crew turned out in their numbers despite the late time last night and it is a credit to their selflessness and dedication that they are always ready to help someone in need.

“We have also had a busy few days of RNLI training at the station which ensures our volunteers are always skilled and prepared when that call for help comes.”

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