At 3:46pm yesterday afternoon (Saturday 8 June) Clifden RNLI were tasked by the Coastguard to a distress signal received from a PLB (personal locator beacon) registered to a 50 foot yacht that had been activated some 13 miles west of Slyne Head.
Clifden’s all-weather boat and Atlantic 85 both launched along with Aran Islands Lifeboat and the Shannon based Rescue 115 helicopter.
Clifden’s two lifeboats set off, with the casualty’s position plotted and their direction finding equipment utilized to home in on the PLB’s distress signal.
On route they received updated information that the lone sailor had become trapped in his generator room. The boat had rolled hard to her beam and the door slammed shut. He had already spent approximately two hours trying to open it and was very worried as the boat was on autopilot so he activated his PLB to raise the alarm.
Shortly afterwards he managed to free himself and immediately called Clifden Coastguard to inform them that he was ok, and that he had activated his PLB as at the time he had been in grave and imminent danger as he was not in control of his boat.
The Coastguard then requested Clifden’s all-weather lifeboat to proceed to the casualty’s location and make verbal/visual contact with the skipper. He confirmed that he had been in a perilous position when he was trapped and the boat was indeed adrift and heading towards hazardous shoreline. He was very relieved to learn that the rescue services were coming to his aid and he then made his own way into Clifden Bay.
Coxswain James Mullen said after the launch: ‘This really showed the value and importance of wearing a PLB as this skipper was totally trapped aboard his own boat and in grave danger. Luckily, his decision to carry this vital piece of safety equipment and then to activate his PLB meant that we were able to go to his aid and thankfully a much worse scenario was avoided.'
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.
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