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Displaying items by tag: Lifeboats

Lough Derg RNLI were tasked last night (Tuesday 26 October) to assist five people on a 48ft cruiser at anchor near the Benjamin Rocks on the Co Clare shore.

At 11.10pm the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Ger Egan, crew Steve Smyth, Joe O’Donoghue and Doireann Kennedy on board.

Conditions on the lake were very rough with Force 6 southwesterly winds with severe gusts. As it was night, visibility was aided by searchlights, radar and other lifeboat electronic aids.

At 11.24pm the lifeboat had the casualty vessel in sight, it was at anchor just off red marker 1168 which identifies the Benjamin Rocks. The RNLI crew found all five people to be safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets.

The skipper explained that the strong winds kept them from making headway, and so at 5.30pm with strengthening winds and failing light, they felt they wouldn’t make harbour and decided to drop anchor and wait out the storm.

However, the cruiser’s location was subjected to the full force of the wind which caused the anchor to drag, taking the vessel close to the rocky shoal.

Given the worsening conditions, the lifeboat helm put a cree member on board the casualty vessel and instructed them to cut the anchor line. But as the anchor warp was all chain and shackled to the cruiser, this was not possible.

With effort, the volunteer weighed anchor and the lifeboat guided the casualty vessel to the shelter and calm of the public harbour at Dromineer. At 12:54am the cruiser was safely secured alongside at Dromineer Harbour and the lifeboat returned to base shortly after 1am.

Liam Maloney, lifeboat operations manager at Lough Derg RNLI, advises water users unfamiliar with Lough Derg to “check the weather for the lakes and plan your course to arrive at safe harbour before nightfall”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Skerries RNLI responded to two calls for help, one immediately after the other on Sunday afternoon (24 October) afternoon, responding to three kayakers in difficulty near Portrane and then two sailors in difficulty near Laytown.

Shortly after 2pm, Dublin Coast Guard received a 999 call from the public reporting that there was a number of people in distress on what appeared to be an inflatable off Portrane beach.

Skerries RNLI, the Dublin-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 and the coastguard boat from Howth were all tasked to respond. The volunteers in Skerries launched their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson and the crew entered a route for Portrane.

Further information then came through from the casualties to say that they had actually been knocked off their kayaks and had lost a paddle, confirming that there were three people in the water.

Rescue 116 was first on scene, maintaining a visual on the casualties until the coastguard boat and the Skerries lifeboat arrived on scene.

One of the casualties had managed to make their way ashore. The remaining two were taken on board the coastguard boat and brought safely back to the beach.

Just minutes later, Dublin Coast Guard re-tasked Rescue 116 and Skerries RNLI to an incident involving a sailing dinghy near Laytown.

They had received 999 calls reporting that the dinghy had capsized and its sailors were having difficulty in righting it. Clogherhead RNLI were also requested to launch.

Rescue 116 was on scene very quickly and established VHF communications with the casualty vessel. At that time they were still confident of righting the vessel and making their own way ashore.

However, with the weather conditions deteriorating and a small craft warning coming into effect — conditions at the time were choppy with a Force 3-4 southerly wind — Dublin Coast Guard requested the two lifeboats to continue on their course until the casualty was confirmed on shore.

Skerries and Clogherhead lifeboats both arrived on scene minutes later. The two men on the dinghy then realised that they had suffered some structural damage to the rigging of their boat and would be unable to make it ashore unaided. The Skerries lifeboat took them under tow and returned them safely to the slipway at the River Nanny.

Speaking about the callout, Skerries RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning said: “It was a busy afternoon for our volunteers, but thankfully both incidents had a good outcome.

“It was another great example of how the different agencies and flank stations work together to keep people safe on the water.”

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Three members of Larne RNLI’s fundraising committee, who between them have volunteered for a combined 70 years, have been awarded with long-service medals recognising their contribution to saving lives at sea in Northern Ireland.

Pamela McAuley, Esther Dorman and Stephen Craig were presented with their medals ahead of the reopening of the lifeboat Christmas shop in the Murrayfield arcade in Larne, Co Antrim.

Recalling why she got involved with the charity, Pamela McAuley — who is the chair of Larne RNLI’s fundraising committee — said: “My family have always been keen sailors, being involved with a local sailing club.

“I thought it seemed a good way to give something back to a charity that is always ready and willing to answer every call for help at sea.”

Stephen Craig said: “I got asked to help out with a fashion show that the fundraisers put on in the autumn of 1998 and enjoyed helping out. It wasn’t until 1999 that I officially joined as a volunteer.

“I have been a lifelong sailor with a particular interest in sea safety and with prior work commitments I would have found it difficult to commit as a crew member. However, volunteering with the fundraisers was a suitable alternative.”

Esther Dorman, who is the secretary of the fundraising committee and has been volunteering for the RNLI for 30 years, added: “Like Stephen and Pam, my family has been involved with Larne RNLI now for many years, with my brother, nephew and niece all being volunteers.

“I’m happy to be involved with fundraising as I feel I’m supporting a worthwhile cause.”

Larne RNLI’s pop-up Christmas shop is back this year in the Murrayfield arcade in Larne. The shop is open every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Following previous appearances by Dunmore East, Kilmore Quay and Rosslare Harbour RNLI, the volunteer lifeboat crew in Portrush will be taking to the small screen next Tuesday 2 November as they feature in the 10th and final episode of this series of Saving Lives at Sea.

Real-life rescue footage gives a frontline view of how the charity’s lifesavers risk their own lives as they go to the aid of those in danger at sea and strive to save every one. It’s accompanied by emotive interviews from the volunteer lifeboat crews alongside the people they rescue and their families.

Now in its sixth series, the 10-part maritime TV documentary showcases the lifesaving work of the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews from around Ireland and the UK. The series is on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 8pm as well as being available following broadcast on BBC iPlayer (for viewers in the UK).

The final episode of the current series sees Portrush RNLI rescue a teenage boy who gets into difficulty while jumping into the sea off rocks at Portstewart Head.

As the all-weather lifeboat approaches the scene, the crew observe a person in the water waving their arms. A teenage boy who is wearing a wetsuit is struggling against an ebbing tide which is pulling him away from the land and out to sea off the west side of Portstewart Head.

Coxswain Des Austin manoeuvres the lifeboat close to where the casualty is in the surf and breaking waves while the station’s mechanic Dave Robinson dons a drysuit and PPE. A line is attached to the mechanic who jumps into the water and grabs the casualty to safety.

The lifeboat crew administer casualty care to the boy, who is showing signs of hypothermia and exhaustion and is suffering from the effects of shock.

Austin said: “It’s great that we can showcase the lifesaving work of RNLI volunteers in a TV programme like this. Without the generous support and donations from the public, we wouldn’t be able to save lives at sea and it’s great to be able to share what we do with our supporters from the comfort of their own home.”

During 2020, RNLI lifeboats in Northern Ireland launched 234 times with their volunteer crews coming to the aid of 253 people. Eighty-nine of those launches were carried out in the hours of darkness. RNLI lifeguards meanwhile responded to 225 incidents coming to the aid of 285 people, six of whom were lives saved.

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Ballycotton RNLI’s all-weather Trent class lifeboat Austin Lidbury was called out by Valentia Coast Guard to a report from a passing yacht of a possible upturned boat south of Nohaval.

Conditions were fresh with Force 6-7 south-westerly winds and clear visibility when the lifeboat launched at 2.20pm yesterday afternoon (Sunday 24 October).

Two miles west of Daunt Rock, the lifeboat crew discovered the remains of an old boat with its hull upturned in the water. It is believed it may have been washed out to sea as a result of recent storms.

Ballycotton RNLI duty coxswain Barry Murphy said: “Thankfully this was a false alarm, and the call was made with good intent. The RNLI would always ask members of the public to call 999/112 if they feel somebody is in possible danger.”

All crew from Ballycotton RNLI returned safely at 5.20pm to refuel and wash down in preparation for the next callout.

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Portrush RNLI’s lifeboat volunteers dashed out of a book launch to a very different kind of launch yesterday afternoon (Saturday 23 October) following reports of two paddle boarders in difficulty some 600 metres off Portstewart Strand on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.

Launching at 2.32pm on request of Belfast Coastguard, the inshore lifeboat arrived on scene 12 minutes later amid choppy seas and squally showers with a southerly wind.

The volunteer crew quickly located the two paddle boarders on one board, and were able to get both safely back to shore, where they were handed into the care of the local coastguard team.

At the time the pagers were activated, the crew had been supporting their lifeboat medical officer Dr Martin O’Kane at the launch of his book Dee the Little Lifeboat.

Alice Rohdich and Martin O’Kane with their book Dee the Little Lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Judy NelsonAlice Rohdich and Martin O’Kane with their book Dee the Little Lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Judy Nelson

Dr O’Kane wrote the children’s book as a fundraiser for the station and is illustrated by local artist Alice Rohdich, wife of former lifeboat crew member Damian Rohdich.

The assembled guests including local MLAs, councillors, journalists and friends were treated the sound of several pagers being activated and a scramble of yellow-clad volunteer lifeboat crew running out the door towards the lifeboat house in very dramatic start to a wonderful book launch.

Portrush RNLI press officer Judy Nelson said: “I could not have timed this shout any better if I had tried. This certainly showed people how quickly the crew respond to the pager and to see them all running for the door certainly added to the drama.

“It certainly helped to reinforce how important our fundraising events are — to support our volunteer crew to save all lives at sea.”

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A dad’s passion for the old Clifden RNLI lifeboat he served on has passed to the next generation as his son has purchased the first lifeboat his father helmed in 1996.

James Mullen, a coxswain at Clifden RNLI in Co Galway with over 27 years voluntary service saving lives at sea on the West Coast of Ireland, is also a proud dad to four boys who have inherited their father’s remarkable passion for the sea, the RNLI and everything to do with boats.

It’s this passion which inspired James’ 14-year-old son Ronan to track down and buy the C-class 522 inshore lifeboat which was stationed in Clifden between 1989 and 1997.

The boat holds so many memories for James as a teenage RNLI recruit and when his sons would ask him for the history of the station and his favourite lifeboat, the stories he told them always came back to the C-class.

Remembering his early crew years, James said: “I loved the sea, I had lived beside it my whole life and [then] finally, at 17 years old and with my parent’s consent, I was lifeboat crew.

“We had many call outs on the C-class and she was an amazing boat; she was hard on the back but she never failed to bring us home. This craft was the finest money could buy and I was so impressed with her.

“I remember a call one winter’s night in 1995, we were going to rescue a boat that had gotten into difficulty at sea. The weather was terrible with Force 7-8 westerly winds. It was up to us and our trusty C-class inshore lifeboat to get everyone home safe.

“As the seas got rougher, the C-class dug in deeper and when we were all safely back at shore I remember thinking what an incredible boat she was to stand up against those huge waves.”

Clifden lifeboat crew at the old D-class station in 1995, when James was 18 years old | Credit: RNLI/ClifdenClifden lifeboat crew at the old D-class station in 1995, when James was 18 years old | Credit: RNLI/Clifden

James’ beloved C-class was retired from service and left Clifden in 1997 but not much was known about her fate after that. So young Ronan, inspired by his father’s stories, embarked on an internet search to track her down.

Through various searches and online forums, Ronan established that the lifeboat went from Clifden to Ballyglas RNLI in Co Mayo for a short period, from there to the RNLI Museum in Poole and eventually to a private owner in the UK. Ronan located and struck up a friendship with the owner, who happened to be a fellow RNLI crew member based in Weston-Super-Mare.

Eventually, a deal was done, Ronan purchased his father’s favourite old lifeboat and the family brought her back to Clifden to the delight of the whole Mullen clan, Clifden RNLI crew and the many locals who remember her dutiful service.

Ronan describes the moment he found a photo of the lifeboat online: “I was so shocked, I had been looking online for ages and when I finally came across a photo of the C-class I said to Dad, is that her? And he said, it definitely is. After that I knew we had to have that boat. I love the boat, I love being out on the water and the minute I am old enough I will be joining the RNLI.”

James added: “Our station has grown a lot over the years thanks to the dedication of our volunteer crew, we now use an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, a Shannon class all-weather lifeboat and are awaiting delivery of a very special boat next spring.

“Our new Shannon class ALB is being built at the moment and when she comes to Clifden she will carry the names of 10,000 loved ones from the launch a memory campaign.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see the next generation of lifeboat enthusiasts coming up, when I look at my four boys now I think, was I like they are now 27 years ago? Their whole life ahead of them and a future filled with love for the sea and the RNLI.”

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At their recent ‘Family Day’ on Sunday 3 October, Lough Derg RNLI volunteers took the opportunity to acknowledge the years of dedication of former helm Peter Clarke and lifeboat operations manager Liam Maloney.

The COVID guidelines-compliant luncheon at Larkins Restaurant in Garrykennedy was hosted to thank the lifeboat crew’s families for their unflagging support and understanding of the demands involved in being a lifeboat volunteer.

The team invited former helm Peter Clarke and his family to join the party. After the lunch, and on behalf of all the volunteers, helms Owen Cavanagh and Eleanor Hooker presented Peter with an Kimmeridge RNLI Special Edition watch, in appreciation of his 14 years’ service as helm.

Crew member Chris Parker also presented Peter with a framed Certificate of Service on behalf of the RNLI.

Peter is a busy dairy farmer with a young family. Eleanor spoke of Peter’s dedication, good humour and positive attitude especially on some of the most challenging shouts on Lough Derg. She said the station would love to see him return to the crew when he has more time.

Owen and Eleanor also presented Liam Maloney with a Kimmeridge RNLI Special Edition watch and a Lough Derg RNLI Helly Hansen jacket as a thank-you for the six years he served as the station’s lifeboat operations manager and 19 years volunteering for the RNLI.

A former headmaster at Carrig Primary School, Liam is also a skilled boat builder and one of the most formidable competitive dinghy sailors at Lough Derg Yacht Club.

Liam has been a volunteer with Lough Derg RNLI since preparations for the station began in 2002-03, when he made the assembly hall at his school available for meetings and classroom training for crew.

He says that as he was outside the age to volunteer as crew, he became a deputy launching authority when the station went live for service in 2004.

Christine O’Malley, who took over as lifeboat operations manager on 8 January this year, praised Liam for his hard work in maintaining a high standard of operations at the station, and for his success in involving the local community in the crew and operations team. Liam remains with the station as a deputy launching authority.

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Both Dun Laoghaire lifeboats were paged by the Irish Coast Guard after an open-water swimmer was reported missing yesterday (Saturday 16 October).

The swimmer was part of an organised swimming group who quickly realised that one of their number was no longer with them.

Within 23 minutes of the pager alert, the Dublin Bay station’s inshore lifeboat — helmed by Gary Hayes — located the missing swimmer and pulled them aboard the lifeboat. Other than their being very cold, all was well.

The lifeboat unit noted that all the swimmers were well equipped with bright hats and floats which made searching for the missing swimmer far easier.

Ed Totterdell, Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager, said: “It was great to see that the swimming group were wearing hi-viz swimming hats, swim floats and kept a close eye on each other. Being this prepared enabled them to raise the alarm as soon as they realised one of the group was missing.

“Remember, when swimming, make sure someone knows where you are, wear appropriate clothing for the weather, take a means of calling for help in a dry pouch and always swim within your abilities.”

The RNLI has guidance for open-water swimming on its website.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portrush RNLI has had a busy Sunday launching to separate reports of kayakers and paddle boarders in difficulty yesterday (10 October).

In the first callout, the all-weather lifeboat crew were paged just after 10am to reports of kayakers in difficulty at Portballintrae, on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.

However, the kayakers were able to make their way back to harbour and the lifeboat returned to station.

In the afternoon, the lifeboat was requested to launch at 3.24pm to reports of stand-up paddle boarders in difficulty off Ballintoy. Visibility was good with partial cloud but sea conditions were choppy.

The volunteer crew launched at 3.40pm and arrived on scene at 4.08pm along with both Red Bay RNLI lifeboats. By the time all lifeboats arrived on scene, the paddle boarders had been able to get onto Sheep Island.

Sea and weather conditions prevented the Portrush crew from launching the Y boat to assist the stranded paddle boarders.

By this time an SAR helicopter from HM Coastguard was on the way and both Portrush and Red Bay RNLI were asked to stand by until the casualties were recovered successfully off the island and handed over to coastguard shore crew.

Beni McAllister, Portrush lifeboat operations manager, said: “This was a busy day for our volunteer crew and our flank station Red Bay RNLI, and we commend members of the public who alerted the emergency services very quickly as these two incidences could have had very different outcomes.”

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