Clifden RNLI rescue shipwrecked sailor from Inishark Island
In very challenging weather conditions yesterday evening, (Friday 20 September), Clifden RNLI launched two lifeboats after the Irish Coast Guard requested them to go to the aid of a lone sailor who had gone ashore on Inishark Island.
The sailor's 25ft yacht had engine failure southeast of the island and was being smashed against the shoreline under the cliffs further southwest, where he had managed to make his way ashore.
Clifden’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat 13-21 Brianne Aldington slipped her moorings at 4.59pm under Coxswain James Mullen and was on the scene at 5.25pm, where the volunteer crew quickly located the yacht under the cliffs and spotted the skipper waving from the rocks above.
The Atlantic 85 Joyce King was also on the scene by now and the decision was made to try to put a crew member ashore to assess the situation. Helm Alan Pryce conducted a veering down manoeuvre, which involves positioning the boat safely in difficult weather conditions by dropping anchor and using the rope and tension to keep the boat steady.
The Shannon lifeboat simultaneously provided some shelter from the southeast force 8 onshore wind and crew member Ian Shanahan was able to go ashore safely and assess the situation. The casualty appeared well but had sustained minor injuries during the ordeal so the Rescue 118 helicopter winched them both from the island and the casualty was transferred to Castlebar General Hospital. The severity of the weather meant that the yacht could not be recovered safely.
Both lifeboats returned to station at 7.20pm and Coxswain James Mullen said: 'This call out was a very serious situation for a lone sailor whose equipment had failed and luckily he was able to raise the alarm by mobile phone. It really put into practise all of our combined training and seamanship skills and the rapid response times of both boats was remarkable. This was the first call out with the new Shannon Class lifeboat fully involved and it was great to be able to work together so well and effectively.'
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 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.