This summer Sligo RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew launched eight times. The lifeboat crew were involved in a callout last month to a vessel that had got into difficulty eight miles off Ballyconnell in County Sligo.
The couple onboard the yacht had been on passage from the Labrador Coast in Canada and had set out on a voyage from their home in Oslo, travelling to the Caribbean and the East Coast of America. They were returning across the Atlantic when they their problems began. Both of the yacht’s main sails were shredded in a gale and the boat subsequently suffered engine failure. Arriving on scene, lifeboat crew established a tow and took the vessel into Sligo Harbour, arriving after three hours.
Overall in Ireland RNLI lifeboats launched 377 times, a slight drop on last year’s total of 389. The charity’s volunteer crewmembers were involved in many different types of callouts to a range of casualties.
Many of the launches were due to people getting caught out by the tide, problems with their vessel’s engine or machinery, and an increasing range of leisure marine activities. However there were also a number of tragedies and many of the RNLI’s lifeboat crews were involved in searching for missing loved ones or in bringing them home.
The figures, which cover the period June 1 to August 31 2012 and include all the charity’s lifeboats across Ireland, are down three per cent compared to the 2011 figures, which may be due to the unpredictable weather over the summer months.
The busiest station overall in Ireland was Enniskillen, which operates two inshore lifeboats on Lough Erne and two Rescue Water Craft. They launched 23 times over the summer. They were followed by Dun Laoghaire RNLI in Dublin and lifeboat crews in Bangor and Portrush who all launched 18 times each. The next busiest station was Baltimore in West Cork, who are naming their new €3million lifeboat this Saturday; their volunteer lifeboat crew launched 16 times.
The newly opened lifeboat station on Lough Ree at Coosan Point in Athlone, which is currently on a twelve month trial, was also busy with nine launches this summer.
Rising tides and rough conditions caught some sea users out and lifeboat crews rescued swimmers in difficulty in Lough Swilly, County Donegal and Red Bay, County Antrim. Both swimmers were saved when they were spotted from the shore by a member of the public who alerted the Coast Guard and the lifeboats were launched. In one of the most memorable callouts for a lifeboat crew this summer, Baltimore RNLI put their new lifeboat to good use alongside their inshore one to help save the lives of two teenage kayakers who were trapped in a cave when a wave capsized them. In challenging conditions and churning seas, a lifeboat volunteer swam into the cave and brought the pair to safety as part of a multi-agency operation.
However alongside the rescues and calls for assistance there were also a number of tragedies this summer. During one week in August five lives were lost in four separate tragedies in Cork, Mayo and Clare. Lifeboat crews searched alongside colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard, Garda and Navy divers with clubs, local boats and volunteers to find the missing people.
Owen Medland, RNLI Training Divisional Inspector said: “This has been another busy summer for the RNLI despite the unpredictable weather. There have been some stories of incredible bravery and also some stories of devastating loss. In all cases our lifeboat volunteers have shown extreme professionalism and commitment. Each and every callout is different and conditions, location, duration and activity can all vary. In many cases our volunteers are involved in callouts that go on for a number of hours throughout the night and their employers support them in their volunteering.”
There are 44 RNLI lifeboat stations in Ireland with three operating inland at Lough Erne in Enniskillen, Lough Derg in Dromineer and Lough Ree in Athlone. Lifeboat crew at these stations operate 56 lifeboats and two rescue water craft all year round.Always be first with Sligo news - Never miss a story - Join us on Facebook