Beachings, boats, and balloons - all in a day's work for Rhyl RNLI volunteers
The Monday Bank Holiday 28 May 2018, was not so much a rest day, as an all-inclusive action day for the lifeboat crews in the North Wales town.
The lifeboats, along with coastguard volunteers from Rhyl, were kept busy from 2pm in the afternoon, to 1 am the next morning (Tuesday). The Inshore lifeboat was involved in four incidents, whilst the all-weather lifeboat launched twice.
The main incident involved an overdue 7-metre Bayliner speedboat which had gone to Liverpool with two people on board, to watch the tall ships parade. They were reported somewhere near Talacre at 2pm, and so both boats were launched to search that area. The vessel was found stranded on the beach about 500 metres to the East of Talacre lighthouse. As the tide was ebbing, recovery of the boat was not possible. It was found the boat's engine's water pump had failed, and so the boat would float but have no power on the next tide, and was right next to the busy channel going into Mostyn Port. It was agreed with the owner that the lifeboats would return in the evening to tow the boat back to Rhyl, which was where it was launched from. The lifeboats returned to station at 5.30pm.
The crews and coastguards re-assembled at their stations at 8pm the same evening. Immediately there was a call for the inshore lifeboat to launch to a red object about 1.5 miles North-east of the station. There was also a report of an overdue boat from Rhyl which had also gone to Liverpool earlier. The crew launched, and found a large bundle of red helium balloons (not 99 for all the older people reading this!). These were recovered to station and the inshore lifeboat made ready for service at 8.25pm.
The lifeboats were lunching at 9pm to assist the original casualty, when the UK coastguard at Holyhead reported there was a small fast boat going towards Rhyl which might be the other overdue vessel. This boat was met by the lifeboat crew just off the station, and, as all was well, this vessel proceeded on its way back to Rhyl. The lifeboats then proceeded to Talacre. By this time the vessel was just floating. It was towed to deeper water by the inshore lifeboat and then towed to Rhyl. The two people on board were taken on board the all-weather lifeboat. The tow commenced, and all vessels entered Rhyl harbour just before midnight. The boat was recovered back on to its trailer, and the lifeboats returned to station, being ready for service at 1am, some 11 hours after the initial call.
Martin Jones, Rhyl RNLI lifeboat coxswain says ' There are two points of safety involved, the first being that helium balloons should not be let free if possible near coastal waters, as they waste crews' times recovering them when they could be on other callouts. The second point is that if a skipper takes a boat out to sea, they should be prepared for the length of journey involved. Always tell the UK coastguard of your intentions, and let them and other family members ashore be aware of the expected time back. This will greatly assist the rescue services. Have some means of contacting the coastguard, such as a VHF radio, and also some means of locating the vessel - flare, Global Positioning system, compass, etc. It is not the most effective method of navigation to follow a coastline as there are dangers all along the coast, not just rocks but also shifting sandbanks'.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.