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#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI rescued four people on Saturday night (13 February) after their angling boat got into difficulty off the Co Down coast.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 7.30pm on Saturday following a request from Belfast Coastguard to go to the aid of a 36ft angling boat, which had suffered engine failure eight miles south east of St John’s Point while on passage from Howth to Carrickfergus.

Under coxswain Aidan Riley and with five crew members on board, the lifeboat launched within minutes and made its way to the scene some 16 nautical miles from the station.

Weather conditions at the time were described as fresh with rough seas and Force 5-6 winds blowing.

With the vessel losing battery power, Newcastle RNLI advised the crew to switch the boat’s lights off until the lifeboat was closer to their location.

Once on scene 80 minutes later, the lifeboat crew assessed the situation and once confident that no one was in any immediate danger, the lifeboat crew began to work with the angling crew to set up a towline.

The vessel was then taken under tow and brought safely back to Ardglass.

Speaking following the callout, Newcastle RNLI coxswain Aidan Riley said: "The vessel was quite a bit away from the shore when it sustained engine difficulties and the crew made the right call to ask for assistance.

"We were delighted to help and glad to see the boat and her crew returned safely to Ardglass."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#rnli – Two long-serving Newcastle RNLI volunteers have received awards from the charity for their tireless work and dedication to saving lives at sea. Deputy Launching Authority Joe McClelland and All Weather lifeboat crewmember William Wilson were presented with the awards at the station recently and the honour was well received among their colleagues at the lifeboat station. Between them the two men have given almost seventy years' service to the RNLI and neither of them have any plans to retire.

Joe McClelland has been involved with Newcastle RNLI since signing up as a teenager in 1966. He spent the next two years as shore crew before he moved onto the all weather lifeboat, where he spent the next 27 years as lifeboat man. When it came time to step down from the lifeboat crew, Joe did not leave the RNLI. Instead he stayed on at the station and put his invaluable maritime knowledge and experience to good use in the role of Deputy Launching Authority.

Joe is a mariner through and through, having been at sea for 42 years, with 30 of them serving as a Captain in the merchant navy. Reminiscing on his time with Newcastle RNLI Joe said, 'It was the done thing years ago to join the lifeboat crew when you were very young. The Newcastle lifeboat at time was the Liverpool class William and Laura and the Coxswain was Mickey Leneghan, a man we all looked up to and who was a legend around these parts. I lived in the harbour and the sea was in my blood.

Receiving the long service award is a huge honour for me and I will treasure it. So much has changed in the RNLI over the last 47 years that I've been involved with the RNLI. There is now a huge emphasis on training and rightly so. Not as many people are from maritime backgrounds but they have brought huge talent and skill to the crew and the RNLI places a huge emphasis on the training. I've seen a lot of things during my time as lifeboat crew and thankfully there has been a lot of happy endings and reunions but I also remember those who were lost at sea and their families.'

Also receiving his long service award was crewmember William Wilson, in recognition of his 20 years on the Newcastle lifeboat. William joined the lifeboat crew in 1994 when he was 26 years old. His father Will also volunteers with Newcastle RNLI and is currently station President. William has served as both inshore and all weather lifeboat crew but these days he has retired from the smaller lifeboat.

William commented, 'I always had an interest in search and rescue and I had the good fortune of joining the lifeboat crew just as the current all weather lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling arrived on station, so there was huge excitement. We couldn't wait to get onboard and up to speed with all the equipment. My first major callout was to a fishing boat which had been lost in bad weather. I remember my adrenalin was pumping as we searched for the missing crewman for days. At that stage you realise that even when things are bleak, the importance of bringing closure to a family is a huge part of your job.

The RNLI is a very professional service and I love the fact that you are never finished learning. The background of the crew may have changed but the aims and values are still exactly the same and that is still saving lives at sea. I want to thank everyone involved with Newcastle RNLI for the honour and I hope we will see many more of these awards in the years to come.'

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#lifeboat – Volunteer lifeboat crew at Newcastle RNLI were called out last Wednesday after a distress call from a fishing vessel in the Irish Sea. The All Weather Lifeboat crew were tasked by Belfast Coastguard to assist Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat crew after the skipper of the 24 meter steel hulled vessel reported his boat had lost all power.

The callout was a particularly special one for the Latus family as both father Robert and son Aaron (18) were on board Newcastle's All Weather Lifeboat 'Eleanor and Bryant Girling. The pair were sitting down to breakfast when the pagers went off at 7:53am on Wednesday morning. They promptly made their way to the station and within minutes were suited up and on their way to help the stricken vessel.

Donaghadee RNLI was first on scene 3 miles east of Portavogie. In slight sea conditions with good visibility they quickly secured a tow line and proceeded to make way towards Ardglass Harbour. They were joined by Newcastle RNLI's lifeboat crew who assisted in helping keep the vessel under control to ensure a safe entrance and berthing at its home port of Ardglass.

Commenting on the callout, Newcastle RNLI crewmember Aaron Latus said 'For years I've watched my dad responding to the lifeboat pager going off. This inspired me to join the crew at Newcastle RNLI. It was great to share my first rescue experience on the All Weather Lifeboat with dad.'

Robert Latus has given 13 years service to the lifeboat and also holds the position of assistant mechanic. Aaron has been a crew member for 15 months.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#RNLI - In the first callout of the year for Newcastle RNLI in Co Down, both lifeboats were launched in the early hours of Saturday morning (3 January) following reports of a missing male sighted near the beach close to Down Roads.

The inshore lifeboat crew were paged at 3.08am by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to assist local police and coastguard in their search for the missing man.

The inshore lifeboat arrived on scene within minutes to commence a search of the shoreline from the Shimna river mouth to Dundrum Bar.

In a moderate sea state with some big swells and a northwest Force 4-5 wind, the decision was made at 3.29am to launch the all-weather lifeboat (ALB) to assist with the search.

The ALB lifeboat crew stood by and provided cover as the inshore lifeboat manoeuvred its way through the surf. Both lifeboats used white parachute flares to illuminate the search area in poor weather conditions.

Both lifeboats were stood down at 4.35am and returned to station after the man was safely found on land.

Commenting on the callout, Newcastle RNLI helm Dylan Mooney said: "Thankfully the casualty was found safe and well on shore. It was great to put the new lifeboat through its paces once again.

"It handles well in the surf. We used night vision and the search light to help us see in the darkness."

Newcastle RNLI deputy launching authority Raymond Deery added: "We have a dedicated crew here at Newcastle that respond rapidly to the lifeboat pager no matter what the conditions."

The volunteer lifeboat crew for the inshore lifeboat were Dylan Mooney, Gary Agnew and Aaron Latus and on the all-weather lifeboat were Richard Herron, Alan Jones, Peter Uprichard, Fionnuala Niallais, Declan Barry, Daniel Rooney and Aidan Riley.

Shore crew were Paul Beeks, Brian Leneghan, Nathan Leneghan, Niall McMurray and Robert Latus.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#rnli – The volunteer lifeboat crew at Newcastle RNLI got to put their new inshore lifeboat through its paces yesterday (Thursday 4 December) when it was requested to launch hours after arriving at station. The callout came at 6.04am in the morning when the coastguard requested the launch of Newcastle's newly arrived D class inshore lifeboat and all weather lifeboat, following reports that a 56 year old man was missing.

The weather was good and the sea state calm, giving both lifeboats the perfect conditions to carry out an intensive search. In the darkness the lifeboat crew used the search light and night vision to scan the coastline and the new lifeboat was able to move in close to the rocky coastline with the crew using their oars to check the depth. Thankfully the man was located safe on land and the search was stood down at 7.30am.

Following delivery of the £41,000 lifeboat, the crew checked it was operational and Search and Rescue capable before they set to sea. The new lifeboat is fitted with SIMS (Systems and Information Management System), an RNLI-developed means for the crew to control a lot of the boat's functions and has a single 50hp outboard engine. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 27 knots the lifeboat can also be righted manually by the crew in the event of a capsize. Equipment onboard includes both fitted and hand-held VHF radio, night-vision equipment, and a first aid kit including oxygen.

The D class lifeboat was first introduced into the fleet in 1963, and its design has continued to evolve. This new lifeboat for Newcastle in county Down was generously funded through a legacy from Mrs Mary Olga Illingworth in Sheffied, with the request that it be named Eliza in memory of her mother.

Commenting on the arrival of the lifeboat, Newcastle RNLI Senior Helm Richard Burgess said, 'The new lifeboat is great to handle and is a marked improvement on our outgoing one, which gave great service to Newcastle for many years. We are very impressed with the enhanced technology and the addition of AIS (Automatic Identification System) which aids the identification and location of marine vessels. It is fast, powerful and easy to manoeuvre; ideal for launching in a hurry. We are very grateful to the late Mrs Illingworth for thinking of others through this generous legacy in providing this lifesaving vessel.'

Newcastle RNLI Deputy Launching Authority Joe Leneghan added, 'We have a great crew here in Newcastle, who put so much time and commitment into their training on the lifeboat. Therefore it is only right that the RNLI provides the best in lifeboat technology and equipment for them. Saving lives at sea is always down to the lifeboat crew but by providing them with a state of the art lifeboat, which is fully kitted out in the latest in Search and Rescue technology they can locate the casualty faster and bring them home to their loved ones sooner. I wish the lifeboat crew many successful callouts in this new lifeboat and may she always carry them home safely.'

The lifeboat crew on the inshore lifeboat were Helm Richard Burgess and crew Declan Barry and Arron Latus. On the all weather lifeboat was Coxswain Richard Herron, Deputy Coxswain William Chambers, Mechanic Aidan Riley and crewmembers Peter Uprichard, William Wilson, Robert Latus and Daniel Rooney.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#RNLI - A lifeboat training exercise in Carlingford Lough over the weekend turned into a real life callout for the volunteer lifeboat crew of Newcastle RNLI when they were tasked by Belfast Coastguard to go to the assistance of a man in a 26ft fishing vessel with engine failure.

The callout on Sunday morning (16 November) was the first for crew member Richard Burgess since he was appointed a station coxswain.

While on a crew training exercise, the all-weather lifeboat Eleanor and Bryant Girling was alerted by Belfast Coastguard to a man in a fishing vessel at Block House Island, whose boat had suffered engine failure and who was subsequently unable to make it to shore safely.

The lifeboat came on scene at 3.15pm and took the vessel under tow to Carlingford Harbour, arriving at 4pm. There they were met by Greenore Coastguard and the vessel was moored alongside the harbour wall. 

The callout was a special one for crew member Richard Burgess, as it was his first in his new role as a station coxswain at Newcastle RNLI.

"It is nice to get the first callout over as coxswain and to know that it ended well with everyone safe," he said. "I’ve been on the lifeboat crew for a few years now but it has been a huge honour to be appointed one of the station’s coxswains. 

"We have a strong team here in Newcastle RNLI and it is great to know that when you are heading out to sea, there is a highly trained and competent crew with you."

The lifeboat crew on the callout were coxswain Richard Burgess, deputy coxswain Alan Jones, mechanic Jim Polland, navigator Niall McMurray and crew members Gary Agnew and Daniel Rooney.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Portaferry RNLI in Co Down had a busy weekend with four separate call-outs over the two days.

The first came on Saturday 6 July following a report that three children were drifting offshore on an inflatable toy.

The volunteer lifeboat crew was already afloat on exercise as part of the annual raft race in Kircubbin, Co Down, when they got a call to go to the aid of the three children aged 10, 11 and 14 who were drifting out to sea on the inflatable 18 miles away at Cloughey Bay.

Thankfully by the time they arrived on scene a local coastguard unit had already attended and brought the three children to safety on shore.

Portaferry RNLI was called out for a second time at 4.10pm to rescue a number of people on board a speedboat that had lost power in Strangford Lough just off Killyleagh.

The crew arrived at the scene at 4.15pm, by which time the 15ft speedboat had already been towed in and was moored at the pontoons at Killyleagh Yacht Club in Strangford Lough.

On both occasions the weather was fine with good visibility and calm seas.

Yesterday (7 July) the volunteer crew launched for the third time to assist an injured woman on Salt Island in Strangford Lough.

The crew arrived at the island at 10.10am and assessed the situation before transporting two paramedics from Killyleagh to the injured woman, who was subsequently airlifted by Irish Coast Guard helicopter to Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast for treatment.

At 11:35am, while returning to the lifeboat station, the crew was alerted once again, this time to go to the aid of two men onboard a five metre Dory that had lost power and was drifting just off Ringhaddy Sound in Strangford Lough.

The crew arrived on the scene at 12.05pm and took the men onboard the lifeboat, towing the powerless boat into Strangford Lough Yacht Club, where the men were then put ashore and their boat tied up.

Elsewhere in Northern Ireland, Newcastle RNLI assisted two men after their motor cruiser ran aground off the Co Down coast last Thursday (4 July).

The volunteer crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 2.20pm following a report from Belfast Coastguard that a small vessel had ran aground off Dundrum Bar with two people on board.

Weather conditions at the time were described as blowing south westerly four to five winds with moderate to choppy seas. There was good visibility.

The lifeboat, helmed by Nathan Leneghan and with crew members Declan Barry and Charles McClelland on board, arrived on scene at 2.30pm, where they observed that one of the men had made it to shore while the other was still on the 5m boat.

Speaking following the call-out, Newcastle RNLI deputy launching authority Joe McClelland said: "Thankfully, no one was in immediate danger and we were happy to bring the vessel and the man who was still on board safely to shore."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI’s always-on-call lifeboat crew had to abandon their buckets and sponges during a fundraising car wash at the weekend to respond to an emergency at the Co Down town’s harbour.

The RNLI volunteers were busily soaping and rinsing cars for their annual Easter fundraiser on Saturday when they were alerted to a woman in trouble in the freezing water a few yards from one of the piers.

The car wash was immediately abandoned and within minutes the inshore lifeboat Aldergrove II was launched and rushed to the woman’s aid.

At the same time, crew member Shane Rice grabbed a lifebelt from the pier and jumped into the water to assist the woman. He kept her afloat while the Aldergrove II came alongside.

The woman was helped into the rescue inflatable, wrapped in blankets to prevent hypothermia, and taken back to shore where an ambulance was waiting to take her to hospital.

Newcastle RNLI’s deputy launching authority Clifford Moorehead said afterwards: "The lifeboat crew are always ready to respond in an instant to any emergency. It is fortunate that the car wash was in progress at the time and the crew members were on hand to swiftly deal with this case.

"After the rescue the crew members came back to the harbour and resumed their car wash. It’s just all in a day’s work for the RNLI."

It wasn't the only callout of the weekend for the RNLI in Co Down, as Bangor RNLI assisted a lone sailor who got into difficulty on a sailing dinghy Easter Sunday.

At 1.10pm the volunteer lifeboat crew received an urgent request from Belfast Coastguard to launch the lifeboat and rescue one person from a 17ft dinghy. 

The sailing dinghy had reportedly gone aground on ‘Cockle Island’ off Groomsport Harbour on the southern shores of Belfast Lough.  

Upon arrival at the scene, the volunteer crew found that the occupant onboard the dinghy had been assisted by another boat owner and the vessel had been safely tied to a mooring buoy.  

Meanwhile, last Wednesday evening Portaferry RNLI was launched to reports that red flares has been sighted on Strangford Lough off Kircubbin in Co Down.

They were joined by a coastguard team that searched the shoreline and after some time recovered a spent flare casing. The inshore lifeboat and its volunteer crew were stood down after a number of hours with the callout proving to be a false alarm.

Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager Brian Bailie said: "A member of the public acted in good faith ... alerting the emergency services to what they understood to be a distress flare on the lough."

He reiterated that flares "should only be used in emergency situations".

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RESCUE - BBC News reports that the search for a cargo ship crewman missing in the Irish Sea has been scaled down.

The 22-year-old from Slovakia was reported missing yesterday morning from the Fehn Sirius, which was en route from Belfast to Portugal, as it headed past Arklow, Co Wicklow.

According to The Irish Times, he was last seen on the cargo ship around 10pm on Monday night as it headed south of the entrance to Strangford Lough.

Lifeboats from Portaferry and Newcastle in Northern Ireland and Arklow joined the search and rescue operation, which was assisted by the RAF helicopter based at Prestwick in Scotland and an Irish Coast Guard helicopter.

However, most rescue services have now been stood down as the Fehn Sirius continues to backtrack in the Irish Sea, with assistance from the Naval Service vessel LE Ciara.

Only three days ago the body of another mariner was recovered from the Irish Sea off the north Dublin coast, more than a month after he went missing.

Published in Rescue

Questions over the next step for juniors after the RS Feva point to the bigger RS200 writes Feva sailor Ciara Byrne

The RSFeva has become the world's best selling two-person dinghy in recent years with fleets also growing in clubs all over Ireland. It is fast becoming the most popular and widespread choice for teenagers and youth sailors who enjoy competitive, active and exciting sailing.

However many questions were being asked recently at the RSFeva Nationals, held in Crosshaven, Co. Cork, regarding the next step for young, talented sailors who wish to continue racing in large fleets without the difficult transition of transferring from the Feva into a larger, unfamiliar dinghy. This uncertainty has led to many sailors dropping out of sailing altogether, while the remainder have split the fleet into Lasers, the 420/470 or moved on to cruisers.

However these dinghies require a lot of time and effort of getting used to, leaving some sailors frustrated and also, less motivated. To avoid this altogether, there is one simple solution: the RS200.

The RS200 is a spacious, one-design, double-handed, hiking, high-performance dinghy which has developed a huge following at club, circuit and championship level in the UK with a growing fleet in Ireland. A pivoting centreboard and rudder allow easy launch and recovery with a thwart giving the crew a comfortable position for light winds. With the asymmetric spinnaker, similar rigging and a similar design, it can be considered as a larger and faster Feva which makes for an easy changeover and the most logical and simple step up.

The ideal weight for an RS200 is 115-145kg (18-23 stone) which allows people of all ages to sail and race effectively in this dinghy. Ideal for teenagers emerging from the Feva, parents, youths, couples, friends and relatives can also come together which enhances the family and social scene.

Even though the 420 has a larger total sail area, the RS200's asymmetric spinnaker of over eight square metres, with a smoother single line hoist and drop system, similar to the Feva's. makes for a faster boat and requires greater tactical and more exciting downwind sailing. This encourages competitive racing and enhanced racing skills.


An RS200 at full speed off Greystones. Photo: Fiachra Etchingham

A maintenance free hull, made of lightweight polyester GRP ensures a long competitive life and second hand boats can be in very good condition so that older hulls are without the disadvantage experienced in fleets such as the 420. Furthermore, every hull comes from the same manufacturer giving no subtle advantage to any one boat; therefore racing just comes down to the sailors' tactics, boat handling and general knowledge of sailing and racing.

While the RS200 is not an Olympic class, there are large UK and Irish fleets which are active and competitive. Johnathan Lewis, a UK Feva coach and RS200 sailor, strongly encourages Feva graduates to move into the RS200 as it is an easy transition and makes for fun and exciting sailing. RS200 fleets are strong in Irish clubs such as those in Northern Ireland including Ballyholme, Newcastle and Cushendall as well as Greystones Sailing Club in Co. Wicklow.

Greystones Sailing Club boasts probably the largest asymmetric dinghy fleet in Ireland with fifty five asymmetric dinghies, twenty one of those being RSFevas and the majority of the remainder being RS200s. Recognising the RS200 as the natural progression from the Feva, ages range from fifteen to fifty five across the RS200 and RS400 fleets in the Club, with most of these boats competing in national events in Ireland, and some in the UK and further afield.


Rounding a mark in the RS200. Photo: Fiachra Etchingham

As fleets build in Dún Laoghaire and Howth yacht clubs, the RS200 is gradually becoming a popular progression from the Feva, and with the RS400 as a follow on boat for larger crews, young sailors can remain involved and spirited in asymmetric racing. The RS200 satisfies a thirst for speed and pace which generates more exciting, competitive and enjoyable sailing for those emerging from Feva fleet.

A Dublin Sailor (who has asked not to be named) has sent us comments on this story:

As one involved in junior and youth sailing at club level, one of the big decisions that faces youths is where to go after junior classes such as Optimists, Toppers, Fevas. Like any other sport, there is a high attrition rate after the age of 14 / 15, especially among girls which is an even greater shame as they can compete on a par with the guys.

We need a class that will keep youths engaged. The 420 & 29er are great boats but require higher levels of boathandling, are much more competitive and tend to attract the top sailors. They also suffer from an inability to match up crews who will stick together - teenagers chop and change all the time and its difficult to race a boat like a 420 / Fireball / 29er wihout a constant crew partnership.

We need a boat/class that:
  1. Enables swapping around of crews without a major impact on the boathandling / teamwork. A sailor's plans for the weekend / event / season are not scuppered because of crewing issues.
  2. Does not need a highly competent crew (e.g. ability to trapeze and fly / gybe a kite etc.) so that sailors can sail with their mates who may not necessarily be top-notch sailors but who can acquit themselves well in a slightly less complex boat.
  3. Has a good mixed social scene which is the most important element of any class, youth or otherwise.
  4. Does not cost the earth in terms of purchase price, is easy on wear & tear on kit (hence replacement & upgrade costs) or does not go soft and become uncompetitive needing a new hull after three to five years etc
  5. Has international competition that is closeby (UK, FR, Bel, Ned etc) for those aspiring to a bit more
  6. Has a motiviated class structure to help grow the class.

The fear is that we are starting out another class that will dilute the current youth class efforts. However I believe that the 420 and 29er will hold their own and continue to attract top sailors with ISAF ambitions.

On the other hand, if we continue to support these we will continue to lose the middle ground (and majority) of young sailors from our sport. Youths are fickle enough and if its too much hassle to deal with all the challenges of getting afloat they just won't bother - sad but true.

The ISA needs to take a lead in this and while its Olympic ambitions are great to see, it will fail the sport as a whole if it does not tackle this gaping need in its portfolio of support.

I believe that the RS200 and R2400 provide the best solution to these challenges. They appear well-built and the manufacturer certainly appears well organised and gets involved.

Looking from outside and without any vested interests (other than the health of junior and youth sailing) the RS's get my vote as a class that can make a radical difference.

Published in RS Sailing
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