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Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew were kept busy with two callouts in quick succession on yesterday’s Bank Holiday (Monday 26 August), while the Portaferry lifeboat had an early-hours launch to aid a yacht run around in Strangford Lough.

Larne’s inshore lifeboat Terry launched in calm seas to reports of an inflatable driving out to sea at Ballygally beach, Larne RNLI says.

After a brief search of the area, the inflatable was recovered, deflated and returned to its own owner, who was offered some advice on water safety.

Shortly after, while the crew were recovering the inshore lifeboat at East Antrim Boat Club, reports came through from the Portmuck Coastguard mobile team of a paddle boarder in difficulty just off Muck Island, near Islandmagee.

Relaunching at 3.30pm, the lifeboat approached the island to search for the casualty and were directed to his location by a passing’s jetskier.

When the lifeboat crew reached the boarder, Larne RNLI says they learned that the man had been on the water with his two daughters and hadn’t realised the currents had been taking them further out to sea.

One of the girls made it back to shore, but the father and his other daughter were in difficulty — however, the jetskier realised their predicament and offered to take the other girl back to shore while the father called for help.

By the time the lifeboat reached him he had been fighting the currents for 45 minutes and was tired.

After assessing him for injuries, he and his board were brought into Portmuck at Islandmagee.

Inshore lifeboat helm Pamela Leitch said following the callouts: “Please be aware of the strong currents and crosswinds around our coastline. It doesn’t take much for someone to get into real difficulty when they are blown out to sea.”

Much earlier in the day, Portaferry RNLI’s volunteers were tasked by Belfast Coastguard to assist a yacht with two on board that had run aground on Roe Island in Strangford Lough.

The inshore lifeboat launched under little moonlight at 12.50am and were on scene 28 minutes later, taking the yacht under tow to a safe place to anchor.

Portaferry RNLI press officer Jordan Conway said: “The yacht’s crew made the right decision to call for help as there was a falling tide and the situation could have got a lot worse.

“We would remind everyone planning a trip at sea to always respect the water. Always wear a lifejacket, always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Dun Laoghaire RNLI launched to a 34ft yacht unexpectedly dismasted while sailing near Dalkey Island yesterday afternoon (Sunday 25 August).

The skipper aboard the yacht was able to call the coastguard by VHF radio, and the volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch the all-weather Anna Livia at 2.15pm in calm conditions, Dun Laoghaire RNLI reports.

Once on the scene, the lifeboat crew checked that the skipper was safe and uninjured, then he and his yacht were towed back to Dun Laoghaire.

Speaking after the callout, Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s coxswain Mark McGibney said: “In this situation where the yacht unexpectedly dismasted, the skipper was able to alert the coastguard as thankfully he had a backup handheld VHF radio. It is also essential to always carry a means of communication.”

Hours before, Larne RNLI was requested to launch by Belfast coastguard to reports of a sinking vessel with two people on board.

Launching both of their lifeboats, Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew made their way towards the casualty vessel’s reported position, just outside of Larne Harbour.

While en route, the inshore lifeboat Terry was stopped by a passing pleasure craft which reported they had recovered the two people from the casualty vessel, who were found to be safe and well and were returned to shore on the all-weather lifeboat.

Larne RNLI inspect the submerged vessel | Photo: RNLI/Derek ReaLarne RNLI inspect the submerged vessel | Photo: RNLI/Derek Rea

Later both lifeboats were requested to survey the casualty vessel to see if anything could be salvaged — but by then it was mostly submerged, as Larne RNLI reports.

Earlier in this Bank Holiday weekend for Northern Ireland, Kilkeel RNLI launched late on Friday (23 August) to attend a 10m yacht with two on board which had become stranded with a rope in the propeller.

Kilkee RNLI says the volunteer crew located the yacht Villa Vilja — which was on passage from Tromso, Norway to the Caribbean — seven miles north-east of Kilkeel in freshening conditions.

And with the yacht tossing about in the rough seas, the lifeboat helm brought the lifeboat safely aside and a crew member boarded the yacht to check all was well to establish a tow.

Despite the challenging conditions, the yacht was brought safely into Kilkeel Harbour where the local coastguard team ensured it was safely and securely berthed at the pontoon.

Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Fisher said: “The transfer of a crew member to another vessel is a manoeuvre the crew often practice but with both boats being tossed about, the transfer was particularly difficult — but was managed, as usual, in a very safe professional manner and we wish the sailors a safe onward passage to the Caribbean.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Wicklow RNLI brought two people and three dogs to safety yesterday afternoon (Saturday 24 August) after their 33ft motor cruiser got fouled in ropes off the Wicklow coast.

The all-weather lifeboat Jock & Annie Slater put to sea shortly at 11am, and 35 minutes later located the stricken Welsh motor cruiser 11 miles north east of Wicklow Harbour.

A towline was established and the cruiser was taken in tow back to Wicklow Harbour, but as they approached the harbour the skipper of the cruiser reported his vessel was taking on water.

As a precaution, the crew prepared a pump and the inshore lifeboat was launched to assist. However, the water was cleared with a bilge pump and the lifeboat pump was not required, Wicklow RNLI says.

It added that the motor cruiser was brought alongside the East Pier shortly before 2pm and the two people and three dogs were landed safely ashore.

Much earlier, Baltimore RNLI in West Cork was called out to a yacht in difficulty south of Sherkin Island.

The inshore lifeboat was launched at 12.31am to assist a 30ft yacht, with two people onboard, that was in difficulty in the Gascanane Sound.

The lifeboat reached the casualty vessel within 20 minutes and found the yacht’s crew to be well before escorting their vessel to the north pier in Baltimore.

They assessed the situation and once the lifeboat crew were happy that the crew on board the vessel were okay, they escorted the vessel to the north pier in Baltimore.

Baltimore RNLI press officer Kate Callanan said: “Although they were not in any immediate danger, the crew of the yacht did the right thing in alerting the coastguard [who tasked the lifeboat].

“At the time of the call there was heavy fog, and the area they were in is notorious for strong tides.

“If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Arklow RNLI launched twice on Wednesday (21 August), first to go the aid of three onboard a broken down boat and later to search for a kayaker reported missing.

The volunteer crew were first requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard at 1pm on Wednesday, Arklow RNLI says.

The Ger Tigchelaar was launched to reports of a fishing vessel with three aboard which had lost propulsion and was adrift one mile north-east of Arklow Harbour.

In south-westerly Force 4-5 winds and with moderate worsening sea conditions, the casualty vessel was located and, once on scene, Arklow RNLI volunteers secured a rescue towline and proceeded to tow the fishing vessel back into Arklow where all hands came ashore safely.

The second call out came later that evening at 6.20pm when reports had come in that a person was missing on a kayak somewhere north of Arklow.

The crew launched the lifeboat immediately and commenced a search. As they proceeded north along the coast, further reports came in that a kayak had been sighted on or near the beach at Ennereilly Strand, north of Arklow.

The lifeboat continued the search north as it headed for the reported position at Ennereilly.

In the meantime, some of Arklow RNLI’s volunteers had commenced a shoreline search to see if the person had managed to get ashore separate from the kayak.

A short time later, another volunteer located the owner of the kayak who had made his way ashore quite safely and was en route back to Ennereilly Strand to pick up his kayak.

The search was then stood down and the lifeboat returned to station.

Following the callouts, Arklow RNLI press officer Mark Corcoran said: “Thankfully, we were able to bring three people safely back to shore and given the worsening conditions and with the casualty vessel adrift near the rocks this could easily have had a much worse ending.

“Our second launch in more challenging conditions followed a report of a missing kayaker — thankfully he had made it back to shore safely and was en-route back to collect his beached kayak when he was located on shore.

“Thanks to the members of the public who made the report and all of our volunteers for their time in challenging conditions and a special thanks and congratulations to Sinead Myler on completing her first call out today.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands lifeboat volunteers launched their all-weather lifeboat on Saturday afternoon (17 August) to carry out a medical evacuation for an injured tourist.

The female visitor to Inis Mór had sustained a suspected fractured leg while out sightseeing, Aran Islands RNLI said.

The casualty was transferred safely aboard the Severn class lifeboat David Kirkaldy under coxswain Tommy Dirrane and a full crew, and was brought to the waiting ambulance at Rossaveal Harbour.

Dirrane said later: “The volunteer crew members train regularly to maintain their quick response time and that can make all the difference to the casualty you are going to help. We would like to wish the casualty a speedy recovery.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, Rosslare Harbour RNLI volunteers were called to assist a small yacht with two onboard in difficulty off Cahore Point off the North Wexford coast.

Tangled in a lobster pot line and unable to sail in the freshening south westerly wind, the crew called the Irish Coast Guard for assistance, according to the RNLI.

Rosslare Harbour RNLI volunteers launched their all-weather lifeboat and reached the yacht in a short time.

Lifeboat volunteers reached the yacht in short order and set up a tow line to bring it close to Cahore Harbour, where the Cahore inshore rescue boat took over due to the shallow water.

Rosslare Harbour RNLI coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke said: “I would like to commend our volunteer crew who worked hard to attach a tow to the yacht in challenging conditions. We were glad to see the vulnerable yacht and her crew safe.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry’s volunteer lifeboat crew had a busy Saturday (17 August), launching twice before providing rescue cover at a local triathlon event.

The first callout was in the morning to a 21ft yacht with engine failure that was at risk of drifting ashore at Newtownards Sailing Club in Strangford Lough, Portaferry RNLI says.

The lifeboat arrived on scene 25 minutes after launch in rough seas and set about establishing a tow to bring the yacht to the moorings at Newtownards Sailing Club, where the two men on board were met by the Bangor Coastguard rescue team.

“They certainly took the right course of action calling for help once they realised that the engine had failed,” the station’s deputy launching authority said.

“We are all delighted with the outcome and urge anyone considering going on the water to take all necessary precautions.”

In the afternoon, the crew were on standby in the station waiting for the triathlon to commence when they noticed a yacht drifting backwards in the Narrows.

They promptly launched the inshore lifeboat to assist the six-metre yacht to nearly moorings in Castleward Bay.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Don’t believe everything you read, the RNLI advises, after the lifesaving charity was forced to debunk claims it was recently billed for an inflatable toy lost during the rescue of a child.

According to The Independent, there appear to have been some crossed wires after an RNLI event in Britain’s south west at the weekend at which an anecdote from the 1980s was recounted.

The alleged story of how the family of a girl rescued from the water off Porthleven in Cornwall sent an invoice for £7 for the girl’s missing lilo was reported as a recent incident by a number of news outlets.

The story came with a sting in the tale for the family in question, with the alleged response from the lifesavers being the suggestion of a bill of their own for the £7,000 cost of the rescue.

But the RNLI has since been moved to clarify that the incident took place more than three decades ago, if it ever took place at all.

The Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A cow named Ghost was saved from Kinsale Harbour at the weekend after slipping down a cliff from the field above — in what also marked a second animal rescue this year for Kinsale RNLI.

Kinsale’s lifeboat volunteers launched on Saturday afternoon in Force 7 winds and choppy seas to the scene, where the year-old Holstein Friesian cow had dropped some distance and was in an agitated state, Kinsale RNLI says.

Attempts to lasso the cow from the inshore lifeboat failed as the animal panicked and resisted the lifeboat crew’s efforts.

But after bringing out the cow’s owner — local farmer Brian Hayes — to assist, they were able to fit a halter and tow Ghost back to shore.

“She’s always been hyper since she was a calf,” Hayes said back on the farm. “She’s out in the shed now drinking and eating normally, thankfully. The lads were great and I really am fierce grateful to the RNLI.”

This is the second animal rescue for the Kinsale crew in 2019. In February, they assisted a horse that had become trapped in local oyster trestles.

“While we are delighted to save animals, our primary concern is always for human life,” lifeboat helm Jonathan Connor says.

“We were eager to prevent the farmer, who was a non-swimmer, and other bystanders from entering the water and attempting the rescue themselves, and were also conscious of a number of people on the nearby beach who could have been put in danger.”

If you see anyone in danger on or near the water, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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There are 15 Community Rescue Boats around Ireland.

These are a nationwide group of independent, voluntary rescue boats, which reflect the concern of local communities for water safety in their areas and which were generally established following local drowning tragedies.

They provide additional safety coverage in addition to the RNLI and the Coast Guard. Over my years in journalistic work, I’ve met many of those involved and heard how the local communities fund their operations.

They have worked with the Coast Guard and the RNLI.

BALLINSKELLIGS COMMUNITY RESCUE BOATBallinskelligs Community Rescue Boat

Following the announcement of the new national search-and-rescue plan to underpin coordination and conducting of all search-and-rescue activities in Ireland I have had a few contacts from people involved in the operation of community lifeboats. They expressed the opinion that they “should not be forgotten” in the overall context of national search-and-rescue operations.”

These lifeboats are trained and administered by Irish Water Safety and are a “declared resource” available to the Coast Guard for search-and-rescue, responding on a seven-day round-the-year availability.

There are another 28 locations where communities also operate rescue and recovery craft that are not a Coast Guard “declared resource.”

The voluntary rescue boats local groups have a VAT exemption allowing them to reclaim this tax on the operation and running costs. This was provided through a Ministerial Statutory Instrument signed in the 80s by then Minister for Finance, Alan Dukes.

“It is important, vital to our funding,” it was stated to me.

From what I have been told there is some concern amongst these voluntary independent community boats as to how they are regarded within the new national search-and-rescue plan. I have even heard that some civil servants have been querying the continuance of VAT exemption on their operations.

They are entirely voluntary operations which demonstrate the commitment of local communities and their concern for safety on the water. Their presence is an additional water safety element that has proved its worth

• On my Podcast this week below, John Leech, CEO of Water Safety Ireland, explains the role of the community lifeboats, speaking on THIS ISLAND NATION radio and how the Government gave VAT exemption to their operations.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Courtmacsherry RNLI was among the search and rescue agencies who responded yesterday morning (Thursday 8 August) to reports that a man had taken ill during a diving expedition to the wreck of the Lusitania.

As reported by The Irish Times, it is suspected that the diver, one of a group of eight, developed the bends as he returned to the surface from the wreck site some 18km off the Old Head of Kinsale.

The Naval Service vessel LÉ George Bernard Shaw diverted from patrol in the area and sent a team to bring the casualty on board, from where he was airlifted to hospital.

Later the casualty was transferred from Cork University Hospital to University Hospital Galway, which has a decompression unit.

As the emergency operation wound down, Courtmacsherry RNLI’s all-weather Trent class lifeboat Frederick Stormy Cockburn received another Mayday call, to a 30ft yacht in difficulty off the Seven Heads coast.

The lifeboat was at the scene within 20 minutes and proceeded to tow the stricken vessel back to the safe surrounds of Courtmacsherry Pier.

Commenting on the morning’s callouts, Courtmacsherry lifeboat operations manager Brian O'Dwyer praised all the crew for their professionalism and fast response.

Elsewhere, shortly after 1pm, Crosshaven lifeboat volunteers were called to a medical evaluation from Spike Island in Cork Harbour.

According to Crosshaven RNLI, crew member Aoife Dinan performed casualty care until paramedics arrived, having been brought to the Island by the Port of Cork RIB.

The Irish Community Air Ambulance also landed on the island along with Crosshaven Coast Guard.

“Very sadly, the male casualty, who was a foreign visitor, was declared deceased,” said press officer Jon Mathers. “Our sympathies are with the family of the deceased man; may he rest in peace.”

Published in Cork Harbour
Page 4 of 99

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