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Baltimore RNLI lifesavers in West Cork feature in the new series of Saving Lives at Sea documentary

The RNLI volunteer crew at Baltimore will feature in the final episode of the new series of the popular BBC Two programme Saving Lives at Sea next week.

Featuring rescue footage, the primetime documentary series lets viewers witness rescues through the eyes of the RNLI lifesavers while meeting the people behind the pagers.

The popular 10-part documentary is now in its seventh series and includes the lifesaving work of RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews from around Ireland and the UK.

Including interviews with lifeboat crews, the series will also hear from the rescuees and their families who are here to tell the tale, thanks to the RNLI.

Baltimore All Weather Lifeboat - please credit Michael MacSweeney / ProvisionBaltimore All Weather Lifeboat - Photo: Michael MacSweeney / Provision

This forthcoming episode on BBC2 at 7 pm next Thursday, 10 November, includes Baltimore RNLI’s rescue in July this year when the crew were called to assist a lone sailor whose catamaran had capsized 70 miles off the coast of Baltimore. As Afloat reported at the time, the sailor had been taking part in a race when he got into difficulty, and on arrival, the lifeboat crew found him on the upturned hull of the catamaran in which he had been racing in single-handedly. The Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew, Rescue 117 from Waterford, were also involved in the rescue.

Baltimore RNLI Coxswain Aidan Bushe, who will feature in the upcoming episode, says: ‘This call out was a great example of a joint-agency rescue where we worked together with our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard under difficult conditions to save a life.

‘We are delighted to see this rescue featured on this year’s series of Saving Lives at Sea. Our lifesaving work would not be possible without donations from the public, and we are delighted to be able to share a frontline view of the rescues they support with their kind generosity.’

In 2021, RNLI lifeboats in Ireland launched 1,078 times, coming to the aid of 1,485 people, 21 of whom were lives saved. Baltimore RNLI launched 25 times, bringing 33 people to safety.

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Baltimore RNLI Lifeboat was called out this morning to provide assistance to a yacht with one person on board that got into difficulty 25 miles south of Glandore, West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 8.35 am, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a 30-foot yacht, with one person on board, which had become propped on a fishing net that was floating on the surface, 25 miles south of Glandore Harbour off the coast of West Cork.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 10 am. After making sure the person onboard was okay, Coxswain Aidan Bushe assessed the situation and decided that undertaking a tow was necessary and the safest way to assist.

Volunteer crew members from the lifeboat passed a tow to the yacht and once a secure tow was established, the lifeboat and casualty vessel were underway. The lifeboat proceeded to Baltimore Harbour. On arrival within the harbour, volunteer lifeboat crew member Brendan Cottrell was transferred onto the casualty vessel to assist with berthing.

Once the casualty vessel was secured at the pier in Baltimore, the lifeboat then returned to the station, arriving at 1.40 pm.

Five volunteer crew were onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Cathal Cottrell and crew members Pat Collins, Brendan Cottrell and Sean McCarthy. Conditions at sea during the call were calm with a north easterly force 3 wind, a 1m sea swell and good visibility.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, said: ‘It has been a busy month so far for Baltimore RLNI who have been on a total of four call outs between 4th and 15th September including two medical evacuations from Sherkin and more recently Cape Clear Islands. Please remember, if you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast or an island, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Baltimore RNLI’s lifeboat volunteers were called upon twice in two days, both time to boats that had got into difficulty near Cape Clear Island in West Cork
 
On Friday 26 August, the crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 10.27am following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a 32ft yacht with one person on board which was propped around half a kilometre north of Bird Island, just off Cape Clear.   
 
The lifeboat was on scene 12 minutes later, under helm Pat O’Driscoll with crew members Kieran O’Driscoll, Rob O’Leary and John Kearney Jr, the latter being put aboard the casualty vessel to assist the lone sailor.

While they were able to free the yacht from the pot buoy line on which it was snagged, the propeller was still fouled so the helm decided that a tow was necessary.

Kearney assisted in rigging a tow and the lifeboat and casualty vessel were under way by 10.58am. The lifeboat then proceeded to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port, arriving at 12.05pm to secure the casualty vessel at the pier.
 
Then on Saturday (27 August), the lifeboat was launched at 3.15pm to a report of a 28ft fishing boat with two people on board which was propped on another pot buoy, near South Harbour in Cape Clear Island.

Baltimore’s lifeboat operations manager Tom Bushe had initially been alerted to the problem by a relative of the vessel’s skipper.  
 
The lifeboat crew — helm Pat O’Driscoll with Eoin O’Driscoll, Ian Lynch and Johnny McKenna — arrived at the casualty vessel at 3.26pm.

While the skipper and his crew mate had managed to free themselves from the pot buoy line, they were unable to manoeuvre so helm Pat O’Driscoll made the decision that a tow was required. 

The lifeboat passed a towline to the vessel to establish a tow by 3.30pm and proceeded north to North Harbour on Cape Clear Island, the nearest safe and suitable port on this occasion, where the casualty vessel was secured at the pier at 4.32pm. 
 
Speaking following these callouts, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer said: “It has been a busy couple of days for Baltimore Lifeboat and as always we are grateful to our crews for being ready to answer their pagers as soon as required.

“Please remember, if you find yourself in difficulty whilst at sea call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Baltimore RNLI were called out to provide assistance to a yacht with one person onboard that got into difficulty off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork, on Thursday evening (28 July).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 5.26 pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a 25-foot yacht, with one person on board, which had suffered engine problems just over 1 mile south of Baltimore Harbour.

The Baltimore inshore lifeboat crew reached the casualty vessel within five minutes of launching. When the inshore lifeboat arrived on scene a local passenger boat, owned and skippered by volunteer Baltimore lifeboat crew member Jerry Smith, was already standing by.

Helm Pat O’Driscoll decided that undertaking a tow was necessary and volunteer crew member Conor Harrington was put aboard the casualty vessel to assist the lone sailor in rigging a tow. The inshore lifeboat and casualty vessel were underway by 5.35pm and proceeded to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port. Once the casualty vessel was secured at the pier in Baltimore Harbour, the lifeboat returned to the station, arriving at 6.20pm.

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Helm Pat O’Driscoll and crew members Conor Harrington, James Kitt and Kieran O’Driscoll. Assisting at the lifeboat station were Rianne Smith and Stuart Musgrave. Conditions during the call were fresh with a south easterly force 3 wind causing a choppy sea.

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Less than 24 hours after their role in the dramatic rescue of French yachtsman Loic Escoffier, Baltimore RNLI were called out to provide a medical evacuation on Wednesday afternoon (20 July) from Cape Clear Island in West Cork in what marked their third callout in five days.

The volunteer crew — coxswain Aidan Bushe, mechanic Nigel Kehoe and crew members Emma Lupton, Emma Geary and Don O’Donovan — launched their all-weather lifeboat at 4.25pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide a medevac for a man on the island.

Arriving at North Harbour 25 minutes later, they transferred the casualty onboard the lifeboat and returned to station where the casualty was then handed over to the care of an HSE ambulance crew at 5.35pm.

Speaking following the callout, volunteer lifeboat press officer Kate Callanan said: “It has been a busy few days for Baltimore Lifeboat with three calls in the last five days.

“On [Saturday] 16 July the all-weather lifeboat assisted a yacht with two people on board that was in difficulty close to rocks off the eastern side of Cape Clear Island. [Tuesday night] the all-weather lifeboat rescued a lone sailor 70 miles south of Baltimore after his catamaran capsized during a race.

“We are grateful to the crews of both our all-weather lifeboat and our inshore lifeboat who are always ready to answer their pagers as soon as required. Please remember, if you find yourself in a medical emergency whilst on an island, call 999 or 112.”

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Baltimore RNLI were called out to assist a lone sailor whose yacht had capsized 70 miles off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork, yesterday evening (Tuesday 19 July).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 5.50 pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a lone sailor who had been taking part in a race when his yacht capsized, approximately 70 miles off the coast of Baltimore.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 9.08 pm. The sailor was on the upturned hull of the catamaran in which he had been racing in single-handedly.

Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 was also on scene.

The lone sailor was on the upturned hull of the catamaranThe lone sailor was on the upturned hull of the catamaran. Screengrab from Irish Coastguard video below

Due to the conditions at sea, Coxswain Aidan Bushe decided the best course of action was to launch their small inflatable Y-Boat from the all-weather lifeboat with two RNLI crew members on board.

The RNLI Y-Boat alongside the casualty vessel to rescue the sailor from the upturned hullThe RNLI Y-Boat alongside the casualty vessel to rescue the sailor from the upturned hull. Screengrab from Irish Coastguard video below

Brendan Cottrell and Brian McSweeney were able to manoeuvre the Y-Boat alongside the casualty vessel to rescue the sailor from the upturned hull.

RNLI crew members assisted the sailor up on to the Baltimore lifeboat from the Y-BoatRNLI crew members assisted the sailor up on to the Baltimore lifeboat from the Y-Boat. Screengrab from Irish Coastguard video below

RNLI crew members assisted the sailor up on to the lifeboat from the Y-Boat and Rescue 117 winched the casualty from the lifeboat into the helicopter where they then departed the scene at 9.58 pm. Baltimore RNLI crew members recovered their Y-Boat and the lifeboat made its way back to Baltimore, arriving back at the station at 1.30 am.

Rescue 117 winched the casualty from the lifeboat into the helicopterRescue 117 winched the casualty from the lifeboat into the helicopter. Screengrab from Irish Coastguard video below

Irish Coast Guard video of the dramatic rescue

 

There were seven volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Nigel Kehoe and crew members Brendan Cottrell, Eoin Ryan, Brian McSweeney, Jim Griffiths and Emma Lupton. Conditions at sea during the call were challenging with a north to north westerly force 6-7 wind and a 3 to 4m sea swell.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘This is a great example of a joint-agency rescue working together under difficult conditions to save a life. We wish the sailor a speedy recovery and thank our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard for all assistance provided during this callout'.

Drheam Cup

The lone sailor involved was well-known French yachtsman Loic Escoffier competing in the Drheam Cup in his catamaran Lodigroup.

The 41-year-old from Saint-Malo had left Cherbourg and was 60 miles south of Fastnet when the boat capsized with him inside. 

Rescued - French yachtsman Loic EscoffierRescued - French yachtsman Loic Escoffier

The alarm was raised at around 4pm on Tuesday and the coast guard and RNLI picked him up shortly before midnight. 

Loic had spent his time capsized on the inside of the vessel, and the emergency effort was coordinated by the Valentia Coast Guard.

Lodigroup has issued thanks to the rescue services for their 'reactivity and professionalism' and also to Brieuc Maisonneuve, a rival Rhum Multi competitor, who stood by Escoffier until his evacuation.

Loic Escoffier on his catamaran LODIGROUP prior to the capsize in the 900-mile Drheam-Cup A photo of the catamaran LODIGROUP prior to the capsize in the 900-mile Drheam-Cup  Photo: Thierry Martinez

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Baltimore RNLI lifeboat were called out to provide assistance to a yacht with two people onboard that got into difficulty off the coast of Cape Clear Island, West Cork, earlier on Tuesday (21 June).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 11.57 am, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a 28-foot yacht, with two people on board, which was propped on a pot buoy near Bird Island off Cape Clear Island in West Cork.

The Baltimore inshore lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 12.10 pm. The volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat were able to free the casualty vessel from the trailing fishing gear however as there was still rope wrapped tightly around the propellor, Helm Kieran Collins decided that undertaking a tow was necessary. Volunteer crew member David Ryan was put aboard the casualty vessel to assist rigging a tow from the lifeboat, and both the lifeboat and casualty vessel were underway by 12.26 pm. The lifeboat then proceeded to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port, arriving at 1.20 pm. Once the casualty vessel was secured alongside the pier in Baltimore Harbour, the lifeboat returned to the station, arriving at 1.25 pm.

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Helm Kieran Collins and crew members James Kitt, Kieran O’Driscoll and David Ryan. Assisting at the station were Jerry Smith and Rianne Smith. Conditions at sea during the call were calm with a westerly force 1-2 wind and no sea swell.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘The occupants of the yacht did the right thing in calling for help as soon as they had become propped and before any further difficulties arose. If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Baltimore RNLI were called out earlier today (Thursday 16 June) to provide assistance to a yacht with two people onboard that was taking part in a race.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 11.45am, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a 7m sailing yacht with two people on board, that had got into difficulty 0.5 miles south of Sherkin Island off the coast of West Cork.

The Baltimore inshore lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 11.50am. Volunteer crew member Rob O’Leary was put aboard the casualty vessel to assist in rigging a tow passed to the yacht from the lifeboat.

The inshore lifeboat, with the casualty vessel under tow, then proceeded to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port. The lifeboat crew secured the casualty vessel at the pier in Baltimore Harbour, and once they made sure that the sailors were happy the lifeboat returned to the station, arriving at 12.33pm.

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Helm Pat O’Driscoll and crew members Ian Lynch, James Kitt and Rob O’Leary. Assisting at the lifeboat station were Rianne Smith and Sean McCarthy. Conditions at sea during the call were calm with a south-easterly force 1 wind, no sea swell and good visibility.

Speaking following the call out, Pat O’Driscoll, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Helm said: ‘Due to navigational difficulties the sailors were having we decided a tow was necessary and the safest option to assist them. Please remember if you get into difficulty at sea, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Baltimore RNLI was called out to provide assistance to a yacht with four people on board that got into difficulty 52 miles off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork, yesterday (Sunday 5 June).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat just before 1 pm, following requests from the Irish Coast Guard and the UK Coastguard to go to the assistance of a 36-foot motor yacht, with four people on board, which had encountered difficulties and was 52 miles south of Baltimore.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 3.22 pm. After making sure all four people on board were okay, Coxswain Aidan Bushe assessed the situation and decided that undertaking a tow was necessary and the safest way to assist the casualties.

Crew members from the lifeboat passed a tow to the yacht and the lifeboat and casualty vessel were underway by 3.30 pm. The lifeboat then proceeded to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port, and secured the casualty vessel at the pontoon at 10.14pm. The lifeboat then returned to the station, arriving at 10.25 pm.

There were six volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Micheal Cottrell and crew members Pat Collins, David Ryan, Colin Whooley and Jim Griffiths. Conditions at sea during the call were choppy with an easterly force 3-4 wind, a 1.1m sea swell and good visibility.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘It was a long callout for our volunteer lifeboat crew who spent over 9 hours at sea, but the occupants of the yacht did the right thing in requesting assistance. We wish them well with the rest of their journey. If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Baltimore RNLI was called out to provide assistance to a yacht with one person onboard that got into difficulty off the coast of the West Cork town on Saturday evening (21 May).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 6.12pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the aid of a 29ft motor yacht, with one person onboard, which was propped on a pot line 1.5 miles southwest of Kedge Island off Baltimore Harbour.

Conditions at sea during the call were choppy with a south westerly Force 3-4 wind, a 1.5m sea swell and good visibility.

Arriving at the casualty vessel at 6.25pm, the lifeboat put volunteer crew member Stuart Musgrave aboard the casualty vessel to assist the lone sailor.

Musgrave was able to free the yacht from the line coming from the bottom of the sea, but there was still rope wrapped heavily around the propeller that couldn’t be freed.

Lifeboat helm Kieran Collins decided that a tow was necessary, and by 6.50pm the boats were under way proceeding to Baltimore Harbour, the nearest safe and suitable port, where they arrived at 7.20pm. Once the casualty vessel was secured at the pier, the lifeboat returned to the station.

This was the second callout of the week for Baltimore RNLI, after the station’s all-weather lifeboat responded to a medevac call to Sherkin Island on Thursday 19 May.

Speaking following the weekend response, press office Kate Callanan said: “If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coast Gguard.”

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat for this callout, with Micheal Cottrell and Kieran O’Driscoll alongside Collins and Musgrave.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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