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Courtmacsherry RNLI was alerted by Valentia Coast Guard on Wednesday afternoon (22 June) to two people onboard a 42ft yacht with mechanical problems 25 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale in West Cork.

Shortly after 3.30pm the all-weather lifeboat launched under coxswain Mark John Gannon and a crew of five and quickly proceeded to the yacht’s reported location, just south of the Kinsale Head gas field.

The lifeboat located the yacht at 5.30pm and a decision was made to tow and return it to the nearest safe port of Courtmacsherry.

Courtmacsherry RNLI’s crew on this callout | Credit: RNLI/CourtmacsherryCourtmacsherry RNLI’s crew on this callout | Credit: RNLI/Courtmacsherry

It emerged that the two people onboard were on passage from Kinsale to the Scilly Isles when they encountered difficulties.

After four-and-a-half hours, the lifeboat with yacht in tow arrived safely at Courtmacsherry pontoon at 10.15pm.

Philip White, Courtmacsherry RNLI deputy launching authority said: “It has been a very busy six days with four callouts and great credit is due to all the volunteer crew who drop everything when their pagers sound to help others in distress.”

The crew on this rescue were coxswain Mark John Gannon, mechanic Chris Guy and crew members Dara Gannon, Dave Philips and Pat Lawton.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Aran Islands RNLI on Inis Mór were called on to assist a local woman in need of medical attention on Wednesday evening, 22 June.

The woman was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew shortly after 6.15pm and the vessel, under coxswain John O’Donnell with a full crew, headed straight for Ros an Mhíl harbour where an ambulance was waiting.

Conditions at the time of launching were good with calm seas and clear visibility.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “The volunteer crew responded to their pagers as soon as they went off so we were able to get the patient on her way to the hospital quickly. We would like to wish her a speedy recovery.

“As we head into the summer months, we would like to advise all beachgoers, and anyone heading to sea, to heed all safety advice and guidelines.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Youghal RNLI went to the aid of a sailor in difficulty 400 yards off Mangan’s Bay on Thursday afternon (23 June) after their boat suffered engine failure.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat at 12.49pm following reports of a person onboard a broken down 7m Cobra RIB which was at anchor 400 yards off Mangan’s Bay.

Weather conditions at the time were good and calm with a southernly breeze of wind.

Arriving at the casualty’s location, the lifeboat crew observed that the man onboard was safe and well. He was wearing full personal protective equipment.

Upon further assessment of the situation, a decision was made to establish a tow and bring the boat to a trailer at the nearest safe port at Ferry Point.

Speaking after the callout, John Griffin, Youghal RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “With the weather getting finer we would urge everyone planning to go out on their boats to make sure they are serviced at the start of the year.

“It is also essential to have a means of communication such as a VHF radio or mobile phone in the event of a difficult situation. Should you get into trouble or see someone else in difficulty, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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An all-weather Shannon class lifeboat for Dunmore East RNLI is to be officially named William and Agnes Wray during a ceremony at Dunmore East Lighthouse at 2pm this Sunday 26 June. 
 
The lifeboat, which went on service in September last year, is named after William and Agnes Wray from Manchester. The couple were happily married for over 60 years and had three children, all of whom have had a proud connection to the sea.

The lifeboat which is now stationed in the popular Co Waterford fishing village is the first Shannon class in the RNLI fleet to be based in the south-east of Ireland.
 
It replaces the station’s Trent class lifeboat Elizabeth and Ronald, which was on service in Dunmore East since 1996. During those 25 years, the lifeboat launched 412 times, brining 821 people to safety, 20 of whom were lives saved.
 
Speaking ahead of the naming ceremony, Eddy Stewart-Liberty, Dunmore East RNLI lifeboat management group chair said: “This is a very special occasion for our station, and we are most grateful for the legacy left to the RNLI in William and Agnes Wray’s name.

“We know the family had a strong connection to the sea and our volunteers are delighted and proud to be the custodians of this lifeboat named after the couple which will help us to continue to save lives at sea for generations to come.”

Dunmore East RNLI welcomed the new €2.4 million Shannon class lifeboat in September 2021 | Credit: Patrick BrowneDunmore East RNLI welcomed the new €2.4 million Shannon class lifeboat in September 2021 | Credit: Patrick Browne
 
William and Agnes Wray entered the water for the first time at the RNLI college in Poole in August last year where the charity’s all-weather lifeboats are built.

During the build, volunteers at Dunmore East RNLI were kept up to date on the progress. Ahead of its arrival home, the lifeboat crew had to meet a demanding training schedule as they learned how to launch and operate a new class of lifeboat.
 
The Shannon class lifeboat is the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by water jets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet.

And its naming of the class of lifeboat follows a tradition of naming lifeboats after rivers. When the Shannon was introduced to the RNLI fleet, it became the first time an Irish river was chosen, and it was done so to reflect the commitment and dedication of Irish lifeboat crew for generations.

Dunmore East RNLI was established in 1884. Since then, the crews have received 18 awards for gallantry.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Union Hall RNLI has expressed its gratitude to Laura Goggin and Colin McCarthy of Bank of Ireland in Clonakilty, who both nominated the West Cork lifeboat station for their employer’s Begin Together Fund.

Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together Fund was developed to enable colleagues to support causes that matter to them by donating to vulnerable communities in the places where they live and work.

Both Laura and Colin donated their €500 to Union Hall RNLI, so €1,000 in total will now go towards crew training — a crucial aspect of any station’s lifesaving efforts.

The volunteer team at the station said they wish to thank them for becoming lifesavers and helping to power the charity’s lifesaving work in saving lives at sea and on inland waterways.

The Begin Together Fund for Colleagues is one element of Bank of Ireland’s Begin Together programme which supports charities, arts organisations, community groups and not-for-profits that have a vision for their communities.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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At 8.15pm on Monday 20 June, Carrybridge RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, Douglas Euan & Kay Richards was launched at the request of Belfast Coastguard, to assess a 35 foot cruiser which was reported by a member of the public to be on fire, in the vicinity of Tamlaght Bay.

Winds were Westerly, Force 1. Visibility was good with clear skies.

Once on scene, the lifeboat located the casualty vessel which had a well-established fire on board, and it was resting against the reed line close to the shore. No people were to be seen close to the vessel, so the volunteer Helm placed two crew members from the lifeboat ashore to carry out a land search whilst the lifeboat continued to carry out a water-based search around the location of the vessel.

The volunteer crew carrying out the shore-based search established further information from a member of the public that the owner of the burning vessel had managed to disembark from it and get onto another passing vessel. This information was relayed to the Coastguard who were trying to establish contact with the owner.

Sligo-based Coastguard rescue helicopter “Rescue 118” which had also been requested to launch and was on route to the location was then stood down.

Due to the vessel still rapidly burning, and where it was situated at the edge of a main navigation channel, the Coastguard requested for the volunteer crew of the lifeboat to remain on scene until the fire had burned itself out, to make sure it did not move from its current position and cause a further hazard to water users. The lifeboat crew monitored for other vessels moving in the vicinity and keep them at a safe distance from the burning vessel.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) who were in attendance, assessed the burning vessel, but due to the extent and progression of the fire they were not able to tackle the fire and they decided to allow it to burn itself out. Also, attending the scene were the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) via the shoreline.

Speaking following the call out, Stephen Scott, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Carrybridge RNLI advised all boat users: ‘‘Now we are in the summer season we would urge all boat owners to make sure you have suitable fire extinguishers on board that have been regularly serviced, and a means for calling for assistance. Thankfully in this case the owner was able to evacuate quickly from their vessel. Fires onboard can escalate rapidly, and you should have a means of evacuation from your boat if this were to happen to you.

If you have a fire onboard or any other emergency, or see someone else in similar difficulties, the number to dial is: 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Donaghadee RNLI’s volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat yesterday (Sunday 19 June) to reports of a kayaker who appeared to be struggling against the tide in strong offshore winds just off Cloughey Beach on Northern Ireland’s Ards Peninsula.

Pages sounded at 2.17pm and a crew of six under the command of coxswain Philip McNamara launched Saxon into a moderate to rough sea, with a Force 6-7 northwesterly wind and excellent visibility.

While the crew were making full speed to the last reported position of the kayaker, Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team — who were already on scene — kept eyes on the paddler some 2km north of the North Rock.

It transpired that the casualty had initially been out in a blue kayak and had got into difficulties. He managed to swim ashore and proceeded to go out in a yellow kayak in order to recovery the blue one. With a strong offshore wind and unable to locate the blue kayak, he attempted to return to shore and began to struggle.

At around 2.55pm, HM Coastguard also tasked a search and rescue helicopter which was en route from Prestwick. In the meantime the Portaferry coastguard team were able to report that the casualty had drifted to 1km north of the North Rock.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene, the crew quickly located the casualty sheltering on the North Rock itself. Due to shallow conditions and the sea state beyond the capability of the lifeboat’s daughter boat, second coxswain John Ashwood used a loudhailer to request the kayaker make his way off the rock and toward Saxon. He was able to do this and he was recovered onto the safety of the lifeboat. Subsequently, the search and rescue helicopter was stood down.

Once onboard, a casualty care assessment was carried out to ensure the kayaker was not suffering any ill effects from the situation and it was determined that he was well. Shortly after he was returned to shore at Portavogie Harbour where he was reunited with his son and handed over to the care of the Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team.

Brian McLawrence, Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “There was great teamwork today between the coastguard rescue team and ourselves; a pleasure to work with them as always.

“Time is of the essence in these situations. We would advise that as soon as you suspect that you or a loved one is in trouble, waste no time, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

McLawrence added: “The man was lucky to get to the relative safety of the North Rock itself. We wish him all the best and hope he enjoyed the remainder of his Father’s Day.

“We do recommend if you are going to enjoy the water on a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard that you wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, and carry a means of communication such as a VHF radio or your mobile phone in a waterproof case – it could save your life.”

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas one of the station’s most avid supporters, six-year-old Quinn Whyte, and Donaghadee RNLI volunteers at the lifeboat station’s open day on Saturday 18 June | Credit: RNLI/Margaret RammMayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas one of the station’s most avid supporters, six-year-old Quinn Whyte, and Donaghadee RNLI volunteers at the lifeboat station’s open day on Saturday 18 June | Credit: RNLI/Margaret Ramm

The previous day, Donaghadee RNLI held its annual lifeboat open day which gave the general public have access to the all-weather lifeboat Saxon, where they were greeted by volunteer crew members and given a tour of the boat.

There were record numbers queuing right around the lighthouse for the whole day. The harbour itself was busy with stalls, games and food outlets and the lifeboat shop reported a roaring trade all day.

The lifeboat station was also open and welcomed many visitors throughout the day, with tea and coffee, sandwiches and buns, all supplied by volunteer crew members, partners and family.

Visitors throughout the day included Mayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas who joined in the morning for a tour of the station and lifeboat.

She was joined by one of the station’s most avid supporters, six-year-old Quinn Whyte. Quinn is passionate about the RNLI and lifeboats; he visits them all over the country and has his bedroom decorated in lifeboat memorabilia.

He started to support Donaghadee RNLI’s ‘Betty’s 5p Pots’ campaign earlier in the year, whereby you fill a small jam jar with 5ps and donate them at the lifeboat shop. So far this year he has collected a massive 87 pots — with each one holding around £2.25, that’s quite the achievement.

Mayor Douglas with Quinn at the helm of the all-weather lifeboat Saxon | Credit: RNLI/Margaret RammMayor Douglas with Quinn at the helm of the all-weather lifeboat Saxon | Credit: RNLI/Margaret Ramm

The volunteer team were delighted to Quinn him around the station and the lifeboat as a treat, and fully expect to see him joining the crew in the future.

The station also had a visit from Helen Winter and her son Patrick who made a very generous donation in memory of Helen’s late husband Harold Winter, who was a passionate fundraiser for the RNLI during his lifetime. Patrick himself is an avid sailor and fully appreciates the requirement for and the service of the RNLI.

The day finished with a display by the lifeboat and crew, and volunteer Rebecca McCarthy used her stand-up paddleboard to paddle into the harbour and demonstrate how to attract attention if you are in difficulty as well as the importance of carrying a flare and a means of communication.

The lifeboat came alongside Rebecca and another crew member, Nicola Butler, jumped into the water in full lifeboat PPE to demonstrate the use of the A frame, which is required to get casualties out of the water. Everyone watching appeared to enjoy the display and congratulated the crew with a warm round of applause.

Evelyn Bennett, chair of the Donaghadee fundraising team said: “Everyone at our station, crew and fundraisers, are over the moon at how our open day went, especially given that this was our first since 2019.

“The support we get from the public is what enables our volunteer crew to go to sea and save lives. We rely on donations and legacies and we are delighted to say that this year’s lifeboat day has raised in excess of £2,400 with some monies still to come in. This sum is takings from the entry to the lifeboat, stallholders and the collection buckets on the day.

“Our lifeboat shop and stall on the harbour was certainly kept busy raising in excess of £1,100 — a truly successful and thoroughly enjoyable day all round. We cannot thank the everyone enough for coming along and enjoying the day with us and look forward to next year!”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Courtmacsherry RNLI’s volunteers called out early this morning (Saturday 18 June) at 4.35am to go to the aid of a 40ft yacht in difficulties 21 miles south east of the Old Head of Kinsale in West Cork.

The all-weather lifeboat Frederick Storey Cockburn, under coxswain Ken Cashman and a crew of six, was quickly away at 4.47am and proceeded quickly to the reported location of the casualty vessel.

The yacht, which was on passage from Spain to Cobh with four people on board, had developed mechanical and other difficulties in northeasterly Force 5 sea conditions and requested assistance.

Once the lifeboat reached the yacht at 5.45am, Cashman and crew assessed the situation and decided to establish a tow at a safe speed in choppy waters to the nearest port of Courtmacsherry, where the yacht was tied safely at the harbour pontoon around 8.30am.

Courtmacsherry RNLI deputy launching authority Vincent O’Donovan said: “It was great to see so many of our volunteers respond so quickly from their beds early this morning to this callout and it was prudent that the yacht made a decision early this morning to seek assistance in some heavy seas as they had battled the elements from 100 miles off shore.”

Joining Cashman on this callout were mechanic Chris Guy and crew members Mark John Gannon, Dara Gannon, Donal Young, Ciaran Hurley and Denis Murphy.

This was the third callout in the last three days for the Courtmacsherry lifeboat station, following a search for a swimmer reported missing off Garrettstown on Thursday who subsequently had got to shore themselves, and the rescue of a 13ft RIB with one person on board on the same day.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

As a weekend of aquatic activity approaches, Water Safety Ireland, the Coast Guard and the RNLI have issued a joint appeal calling for caution at waterways nationwide. The appeal aims to reduce summer drownings and comes as figures released for National Water Safety Awareness Week (June 13-19) show that 79 people drowned in 2021. A total of 1,108 drowned in the last ten years, an average of nine every month.

'79 people drowned in 2021, three more than in 2020 and although this is well below the annual average of 111 drownings every year over the last decade, it is still a tragic unnecessary loss of life and a significant public health issue’, commented Roger Sweeney, Acting CEO at Water Safety Ireland. Drownings can happen quickly and silently, and warmer weather sometimes lulls people into a false sense of security, however waterways are still quite cool which affects the muscles needed to swim safely back to shore. Swim at lifeguarded waterways or in designated bathing areas that are known to be safe and have ringbuoys present. Stay within your depth, supervise children closely and never use inflatable toys on open water as you can be swept from shore in an instant.

‘Alcohol is a factor in one third of drownings,’ added Sweeney, ‘and should never be consumed before any aquatic activity as it can lead to someone overestimating their ability and underestimating the risks. Mark Water Safety Awareness Week by having a water safety conversation with loved ones. Make them aware about dangerous rip currents and how quickly an incoming tide can cut walkers off from shore. The Covid-19 pandemic increased the level of interest in aquatic activities and consequently a busy period ensued for the Irish Coast Guard, the RNLI, the Community Rescue Boats and for the Lifeguards trained and assessed by Water Safety Ireland and employed by local authorities. This weekend, let the Lifeguards be there for you.”

Micheál O’Toole, Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager said: ‘This week affords us an excellent opportunity to focus on coastal and water safety and to promote awareness of the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft. It is a valuable source of information, advice and best practice operational guidance for owners, masters, operators and users of a range of pleasure and recreational craft operating in Irish coastal and inland waters.’ See; www.safetyonthewater.gov.ie

Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety Lead, added: ‘With the weather improving and more people going in or on the water, it is important to take some basic steps to stay safe while having fun. If you are going swimming, try to avoid going alone and make sure you are visible at all times by wearing a brightly coloured swim cap. Use a tow float and carry a suitable means of communication such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch and a whistle. If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety.

‘For those going afloat, wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device and carry a reliable means of raising the alarm such as a VHF radio or mobile phone. Go prepared by checking the weather forecast and tide times, tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back, and importantly, what to do if you do not arrive back on time. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Advice to keep safe:

  • Swim at Lifeguarded waterways: or at designated bathing areas that are traditionally known to be safe and have ringbuoys present.
  • Swim within your depth – stay within your depth.
  • Watch out for submerged hidden hazards and unexpected depths - get in feet first.
  • Supervise children closely and never use inflatable toys in open water.
  • When walking the shoreline be aware that incoming tides can quickly lead to stranding.
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating or angling and make sure that it is fitted with a crotch strap.
  • When boating, carry a VHF radio, and as a backup a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
  • If you see someone in difficulty or think they are in trouble, use Marine VHF CH 16 or call 112/ 999 and ask for the Coast Guard.
Published in Water Safety
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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