Newcastle RNLI rescues three yachts in difficulty during Storm Ali

Lifeboats News Release

Newcastle RNLI came to the rescue of three yachts during Storm Ali yesterday.

The volunteer crew members were alerted at 11.40am yesterday morning (Wednesday 19 August) to go the aid of a stricken yacht at Newtownards Sailing Club on Strangford lough. The all-weather lifeboat under Coxswain William Chambers, launched within minutes into the middle of Storm Ali.

As the lifeboat launched, it quickly became apparent the challenging weather conditions the crew were going to face on their passage to Newtownards. Shortly after launching the Coxswain requested the main water tight doors to be closed and all crew to be seated as they now faced 8m waves hitting from the side. There was a force 8 gale blowing as the crew approached Strangford lough. Some 90 minutes later the seas started to settle as the lifeboat was sheltered by the shore.

On arrival at Newtownards Yacht Club at 2.15pm, the Coastguard was concerned that there may be a person onboard the weather beaten vessel, but when the lifeboat crew came alongside it was confirmed that nobody had been on the boat and she was safely on the mooring. The lifeboat was then requested to go the aid of another yacht drifting across the lough from White Rock and Kircubbin but unfortunately by the time the lifeboat reached the vessel there was nothing the crew could do as it was on the rocks on an ebbing tide.

As the lifeboat made her return journey to the station, and was approaching Portaferry, the crew were alerted to another yacht in difficulty. The crew established a tow line and managed to free the vessel and towed it to the safety off a mooring in Strangford marina.

On leaving the sheltered waters of Strangford lough the lifeboat and its crew once again faced mountainous seas and the Coxswain decided to stop in Ardglass marina for an hour to let the wind decrease and the wave size drop. Leaving Ardglass marina around 6pm the crew faced large but bearable seas making it back to Newcastle for 7pm.

Speaking after spending over seven hours at sea, Newcastle RNLI Coxswain William Chambers said: ‘This was a challenging day for our volunteers given that we launched into rough seas when Storm Ali was at its worst. It was also uncertain at that point if there was a life at risk onboard the yacht, thankfully there wasn’t in this case. It was a long and challenging day but our volunteers are highly skilled and trained for these situations and were delighted to be able to help.’

Ends

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Nathan Leneghan, Newcastle RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07851264466, email Nathan_Leneghan @rnli.org.uk or contact Nuala McAloon RNLI Regional Media Officer Ireland on 00353876483547 or email Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Regional Media Manager Ireland on 00 353 87 1254 124 or Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk

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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 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.

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