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Displaying items by tag: Lifeboats

In response to media reports on the RNLI’s humanitarian work in the English Channel, chief executive Mark Dowie has spoken of his pride in the efforts of the charity’s lifeboat volunteers.

“I could not be prouder of our amazing volunteer lifeboat crews, who launch to the aid of anyone who is in trouble in or around the water and needs our help,” he said. “We have done this since the RNLI was founded in 1824 and this will always be our ethos.

“Every year, our lifeboat crews and lifeguards rescue around 30,000 people. We do not judge a casualty on what circumstances have found them in trouble.

“Our crews are tasked by HM Coastguard in the UK and the Irish Coast Guard in Ireland to rescue anyone who is at risk of drowning. They go home after a shout secure in the knowledge that without their help, the person they rescued may not have been able to be reunited with their own family. That is why they do what they do.

“These same principles apply to our lifesaving work in the Channel. We do not judge those we rescue — where we believe there is a risk to life at sea, we will always launch in response to a call from HM Coastguard.

“We want to be absolutely clear that we are incredibly proud of the work our volunteer lifeboat crews do to rescue vulnerable people in distress.

“When our lifeboats launch, we operate under International Maritime Law, which states we are permitted and indeed obligated to enter all waters regardless of territories for search and rescue purposes.

“And when it comes to rescuing those people attempting to cross the Channel, we do not question why they got into trouble, who they are or where they come from. All we need to know is that they need our help.

“Our crews do what they do because they believe that anyone can drown, but no one should. They believe in and remain focused on our core purpose, along with every member of the RNLI, to save lives at sea.”

First-hand accounts from lifeboat volunteers in England’s south east who respond to emergencies in the English Channel can be found on the RNLI website HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Skerries RNLI were tasked by Dublin Coast Guard yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 28 July) following a 999 call from a member of the public reporting paddle boarders in difficulty in Rush Harbour.

Shortly before 3pm, the volunteer crew at Skerries RNLI launched their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat following the report from a concerned member of the public that two stand-up paddle boarders were unable to return to shore and were in danger of being pushed onto rocks.

The lifeboat rounded the headland at Red Island in Skerries and set a course for Rush. While en route, they first received an update that one paddle boarder had made it ashore but the other had been stranded on rocks near the harbour.

As they passed the entrance to Loughshinny Harbour, they received a further update that the second person had made it safely ashore.

The lifeboat was stood down and returned to the station, where the boat and station were bath sanitised and made ready for the next service.

Conditions at the time were slight with a Force 4 westerly wind.

Speaking about the callout, press officer Gerry Canning said: “We have a lot of people making the most of having the sea on their doorstep at the moment, so it’s vital that people continue to raise the alarm whenever they think someone is danger.

“The caller today was genuinely concerned for the safety of the paddle boarders and did the right thing in dialling 999 and asking for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Volunteer lifeboat crew from Helvick Head RNLI in Waterford, rescued three kayakers stranded on rocks at Kilmurrin Cove yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 28 July) when a sudden squall capsized one of the kayaks and the group were forced onto the rocks as conditions rapidly deteriorated. The three kayakers were brought to safety when the lifeboat crew carried out a challenging manoeuvre to bring the lifeboat close to the rocks in the choppy waters and the group were helped onto the lifeboat by lifeboat crew and the winchman from Rescue 117.

The alarm was raised at 12.18 pm and Helvick RNLI were joined on the scene by Rescue 117, Bunmahon Coast Guard and Bunmahon Community Rescue Boat. The kayakers got into difficulty when conditions turned from mild to challenging quite quickly. Squalls and horizontal rain saw one kayaker capsize and the group were pushed over to rocks at Kilmurrin Cove. Taking refuge on the sharp rocks in the worsening conditions, a rescue operation was immediately launched. The winchman from Rescue 117 was able to descend from the helicopter onto the rocks and stay with the group as the lifeboat crew made the difficult approach to the rocks.

With no shoreline or safe landing spot, the lifeboat Helm performed a veering down manoeuvre which brought the lifeboat close to the rocks. A lifeboat crewmember swam to the rocks to assist the Rescue 117 winchman with the transfer of the casualties onto the lifeboat. In a highly precise and closely timed exercise, which relied on the crew taking note of the movement of the lifeboat into and away from the rocks, the three casualties were helped onboard the lifeboat and brought to the safety of the shore, where they were met by members of Bunmahon Coast Guard.

Commenting on the callout Helvick Head RNLI crewmember Joe Foley said, ‘“This was a great outcome in some challenging conditions. The wind picked up very quickly out there and the group were right to seek safety on the rocks. We were glad to see that they were all wearing buoyancy aids and had not sustained any injuries other than some scratches. The veering down manoeuvre which we carried out is something that we practice regularly in training, but every scenario is different, and it is challenging when dealing with multiple casualties and a moving lifeboat in choppy water. We have a great group of search and rescue agencies around here and we all work well together.”

The RNLI advises to always wear the proper safety equipment for your activity and always bring a means of calling for help.

This is the fourth callout for Helvick RNLI in the last ten days.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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In a busy Tuesday afternoon (27 July) for Enniskillen RNLI, the volunteer lifeboat crew launched on two callouts in the vicinity of Castle Archdale.

The first came at 4.30pm after a passer-by alerted the coastguard to a person who went overboard from their vessel.

In choppy conditions with a strong westerly Force 4-5 wind, the inshore lifeboat John and Jean Lewis as well as the rescue watercraft sped to the scene.

On arrival, they found that the casualty has managed to get back on to their Whaley boat when it came to a halt and returned to shore to seek assistance.

Crews from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and NI Ambulance Service took care of the casualty on shore as they had spent some time in the water.

On returning to the station, the volunteer crew spotted a cruiser with two adults and a dog on board that was struggling in the challenging weather.

After transferring a crew member onto the vessel, the lifeboat volunteers were able to take command of the cruiser and safely navigate it back to the jetty at Rossigh. All on board were in good health but were a little shaken by the conditions.

Speaking following the callout, Enniskillen RNLI helm Stephen Ingram said: “It is very easy for things to go wrong in rough weather. We would remind people to use safety equipment and make sure to the ‘kill cord’ is properly attached. Always bring a means of communication with you and make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.

“We would also like to commend the individual on the shore who called the coastguard. When you spot something happening on the water the best thing to do is dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Baltimore RNLI launched on back-to-back callouts in West Cork on Sunday evening (25 July), including a medevac and a motorboat taking on water.

The first launch was at 8.15pm to reports of a 23ft motorboat taking on water at Church Strand within Baltimore Harbour.

Arriving on scene just two minutes later, the all-weather lifeboat volunteers put crewman John Kearney was put aboard the casualty vessel to assess the situation.

The leak was plugged using a wooden dowel plug from the lifeboat, and the casualty vessel was able to make it own way to the pier in Baltimore under escort from the inshore lifeboat.

While the volunteer inshore lifeboat crew were still in the boathouse after that callout, a second request came from the Irish Coast Guard for a medevac from Cape Clear Island.

The all-weather lifeboat crew launched at 9.15pm and proceeded to Cape Clear’s North Harbour 25 minutes later to retrieve the patient, a girl who had been injured in an accident on the island.

Upon return to the station at 10.15pm, the lifeboat volunteers handed the girl over to the care of the waiting HSE ambulance crew.

Conditions at sea during both calls were flat calm with a south-westerly Force 2 wind, no sea swell and good visibility.

Speaking following the callouts, press officer Kate Callanan said: “It was a busy evening for Baltimore RNLI and our volunteer crews with our inshore and all-weather lifeboats on back-to-back calls. If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Skerries RNLI rescued two adults and two children on Sunday afternoon (25 July) after their inflatable kayak had been pulled out to sea by strong currents.

Just before 2pm, Dublin Coast Guard requested Skerries RNLI to launch their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat to respond to a Pan-Pan VHF call.

A group of experienced sea kayakers raised the alarm after they encountered an inflatable kayak with two adults and two children on board struggling to make way against the wind and the tide.

The lifeboat was launched and proceeded immediately to the area where the kayak had been spotted, east of Colt Island in Skerries. The crew soon spotted the inflatable, which had been towed by the other kayakers into the shelter of the island.

All four casualties were taken on board the lifeboat and found to be unharmed. To avoid any hazards to navigation or further callouts, their kayak was also taken on board and the group were returned to the shore at Skerries.

Speaking later, lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It was encouraging to see all four wearing lifejackets and they had a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch. However, no matter how prepared you are, sometimes you can get caught out.

“We’d like to say a big thank you to the other kayakers who recognised the danger of what was happening, made the call for help, and stayed with the casualty until that help arrived. They played a huge part in ensuring a good outcome.”

Portrush RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat approached the motorboat with steering failure | Credit: RNLI/Daniel ThornePortrush RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat approached the motorboat with steering failure | Credit: RNLI/Daniel Thorne

Elsewhere, Portrush RNLI launched on Saturday afternoon (24th July) to a report of a 34ft motorboat with steering failure just off Portballintrae on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.

Once on scene, the volunteer crew performed a dynamic risk assessment and decided to tow the boat and its three crew to the nearest safe, suitable port which in this case was Portrush Harbour.

“This is a classic tow manoeuvre which our crew train are trained to do,” said lifeboat operations manager Beni McAllister.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

This month the Oireachtas Library has been displaying an 1807 pamphlet by Reverend William Liddiard (1773–1841), calling for the establishment of an organised lifeboat service along the Irish coast.

Rev Liddiard was writing in response to the sinking of two ships in Dublin Bay — the Rochdale and the Prince of Wales — which saw the loss of almost 400 lives in one night:

“I have seized the moment when the feelings of the nation are afloat, and before they can possibly be thought to have subsided, of recommending a more general establishment of the Life-boat; a plan, which affords in some degree a balm for the despondency of the moment, promising as it does to prevent a recurrence of misfortunes similar to those, which have lately gloomed our shores.”

As special collections librarian Kate McCarthy writes, it is clear from the pamphlet that Rev Liddiard was impressed with the work to develop a dedicated lifeboat service at Bamburgh Castle on the north-east coast of England.

And he was particularly keen to use the then recently constructed Martello towers as dedicated lifeboat stations in Ireland.

“However,” McCarthy adds, “it was not until 1824 that the National Institution for the Preservation of Lives and Property from Shipwreck was established for Britain and Ireland (now the Royal National Lifeboat Institution). But the sinking of the Rochdale and Prince of Wales added to a growing campaign for the development of a safe pier at the small village of Dunleary (now Dun Laoghaire).”

The Oireachtas website has more on Rev Liddiard’s pamphlet HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers were called out twice yesterday afternoon (Friday 23 July) to assist two separate cruisers with engine issues as a thunderstorm brewed.

At 3pm the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Keith Brennan, Steve Smyth and Joe O’Donoghue to assist two people on a 26ft cruiser with engine failure southwest of Illaunmore.

The lake was developing a moderate chop as a thunderstorm gathered force directly above and the wind quickly strengthened from Force 2 to 4 as the lifeboat arrived at the casualty vessel with minutes of launch.

Both people on board were found to be safe and well and wearing their lifejackets. One of the lifeboat crew boarded the cruiser to assess the situation but could not determine a cause for the engine failure.

Given the deteriorating weather conditions, with frequent forked lightning, the RNLI helm decided the safest course of action was to take the cruiser and its passengers to the closest safe harbour at Dromaan.

The crew set up an alongside tow, with a volunteer remaining on the casualty boat, while and the helm warned everyone not to hold on to any metal fittings on either boat in case of a lightning strike. The casualty vessel was safely tied in Dromaan Harbour before 3.45pm.

Less than half an hour later, the lifeboat crew had just completed a wash-down and refuelling at the station when they were called again, this time to a 38ft cruiser with four on board that had engine failure northwest of Illaunmore.

At 4.15pm the lifeboat launched to the reported location at navigation mark D where there were five cruisers in the vicinity, none of which matched the casualty vessel’s description. Valentia Coast Guard then confirmed to the lifeboat crew that the vessel has regained power and was making way north at 20 knots, and the lifeboat was stood down.

Liam Maloney, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI, advises water users to “check the weather forecast for inland lakes and let others know when you anticipate arriving at your destination”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portaferry RNLI launched to the aid of two people early yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 21 July) after their leisure boat broke down and was left adrift at the Narrows on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

The volunteer lifeboat crew’s pagers sounded just after 12.45pm and the inshore lifeboat, helmed by Fergal Glynn and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately.

Reaching the scene within minutes, they assessed the situation and found two women on board the leisure boat were safe and well.

The lifeboat crew then quickly established a towline and the leisure boat was brought into Portaferry Marina in Co Down.

Speaking following the callout, Glynn said: “The casualties made the right decision at the right time when calling for assistance. Their quick thinking and calm actions made the rescue simple and kept them out of harm’s way.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Newcastle RNLI in Northern Ireland had a busy Friday (16 July) with four callouts within a span of 20 hours.

The volunteer crew were first requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 2.36am on Friday morning to assist two men on a small boat which had broken down after experiencing difficulties off the Co Down coast. The vessel was towed back to its mooring at Newcastle Harbour.

At 12.40pm on Friday, the station’s all-weather lifeboat crew were requested by Belfast Coastguard to conduct a search after a number of personal possessions, including a swimmer’s robe, were discovered a short distance from the lifeboat station.

Shortly after the lifeboat was launched, it was stood down when it was ascertained the items had been on the rocks for several days.

Later at 6.53pm, both the inshore and all-weather lifeboats were requested to launch following a report to Belfast Coastguard from a member of the public that they had lost sight of a man that had entered the water after his dog at Murlough Beach in the Dundrum area.

As the lifeboats were about to launch, they were stood down as the man had managed to make it ashore.

At 9.14pm on Friday, both lifeboats were again requested to launch following a report that a parachutist had lost control and crashed into the water, south of Newcastle Harbour.

Extensive searches were carried out, with assistance from a coastguard helicopter from Wales, as well as local coastguard teams. During the search, lifeboat crew spotted a large deflated helium balloon which was retrieved from the sea. The search was subsequently stood down.

Speaking following the callouts, Newcastle RNLI lifeboat operations manager Lisa Ramsden said: “It has been a busy period for the station and I would like to commend our volunteer team and our colleagues in the various emergency services for their efforts.

“Some of these callouts transpired to be false alarms with good intent and we want to thank those who raised the alarm. We would always much rather launch and find that all is well than not launch at all.

“As we continue to enjoy some glorious weather, we would like to remind everyone to enjoy themselves but to always respect the water as they do. Always wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device and always carry a means of communication.

“Always let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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