Criccieth, Gwynedd, became the first RNLI lifeboat station to officially accept an Arancia inshore rescue boat, which has been traditionally used by RNLI lifeguards to save lives.
The inshore rescue boat (IRB) copes better with the shallow waters of the Glaslyn and Dwyryd Estuaries and complements the station’s B class Atlantic 85 lifeboat.
First approved for surf lifesaving in 1979 in New Zealand, IRBs are now in use worldwide. Brought into the RNLI in 2001, IRBs are hand-built at the Inshore Lifeboat Centre in Cowes. Sturdy enough for heavy surf conditions, IRBs are still light enough for two people to launch.
In 2010, Arancia inshore rescue boats launched 16 times, rescuing six people and saving the lives of six more.
The inflatable Arancia, which originated in New Zealand as a surf rescue boat, is already an established member of the RNLI fleet, introduced in 2001 for use by lifeguards.
The inshore rescue boat is hand-built to a proven design, tested over many years in extreme surf conditions. It is made from hypalon-coated fabric, an extremely durable synthetic rubber, and new Arancias are built at the RNLI Inshore Lifeboat Centre in East Cowes, Isle of Wight.
The craft has a fabric floor tensioned by a separate keelson tube fitted under removable floorboards. This forms a shallow ‘V’ section that allows the craft to maintain speed and manoeuvrability through a wide range of difficult conditions.
13 June 2009
Trials took place at Criccieth with a D class lifeboat, a Y boat (a small, inflatable boat held on many all-weather lifeboats and used as a daughter craft) and an Arancia inshore rescue boat to see if the problems encountered by the Atlantic 85 in shallow water could be overcome.
30 July 2009
A new Arancia inshore rescue boat arrived on station.
1 August 2009
The Arancia started extended operational evaluation trials, primarily to dela with casualties in the shallow waters of the Glaslyn and Dwyryd estuaries. She would be launched from the beach at Criccieth or towed by an RNLI 4x4 for launching in Porthmadog Harbour.
15 September 2009
The Arancia was called into action on her first call out. The volunteer RNLI crew were called to two adults who required assistance on the salt marshes close to Portmeirion.
3 November 2010
An Arancia IRB was placed permanently at the station to complement the station’s B class Atlantic 85 lifeboat.
2 July 2011
Hundreds of people descended on Criccieth to witness the dedication of the station’s new Arancia boat. The new inshore rescue boat was named Margaret and Nantw, in memory of two sisters from Criccieth who were loyal supporters of the RNLI for many years.
2009 (to lifeboat stations); 2001 to RNLI lifeguards
Number in fleet:
1 (lifeboat station); 60 (lifeguards)
20 nautical miles
30hp outboard with propeller guard
The Arancia inshore rescue boat’s first mission at Criccieth, on 15 September 2009. showed the ability of the Arancia in shallow waters. The volunteer RNLI crew were called to two adults who required assistance on the salt marshes close to Portmeirion.
The Atlantic 85 also launched and both boats arrived on scene at the same time, although the Arancia was towed to Borth y Gest by Land Rover to launch. Also tasked were the local coastguard teams and the SAR helicopter from RAF Valley.
The extensive search by both RNLI lifeboats, the Coastguard and the RAF resulted in the Coastguard finding the two adults near Boston Lodge, where they were escorted to safety.
On 20 July 2011, both Criccieth’s Atlantic 85 and inshore rescue boat launched to search for a missing personal watercraft with two people onboard near Black Rock Beach.
En route, the crew came across an inflatable toy whale, which they rescued, and as there was no sign of anyone missing from the whale they continued their search.
The Atlantic 85 crew then found the missing craft, whose engine was still warm, although the kill cord was in the locker and not attached to the engine, and there was no one onboard.
The inshore rescue boat started to search the estuary from Borth y Gest to the Porthmadog Bar, and then along the coastal area to Harlech, while the Atlantic started an expanding box search. At the same time, an RAF helicopter from Valley was scrambled to help search.
After a lengthy search, the helicopter found the two people. They had been in the water for over 2 hours and were very cold, but conscious. They were airlifted to Bangor Hospital and both Criccieth’s boats returned to station.
Locations of Arancia inshore rescue boats
(As at September 2011)
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