With the sun shining and the beaches full along the Ayrshire coast, the weekend proved to be a busy one for Troon RNLI lifeboat crew, and their colleagues both at Belfast Coastguard and in the Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team, with several callouts throughout the weekend.
The first callout came at 3.45pm on Friday 23 July 2021, when Belfast Coastguard requested the launch of the D class inshore lifeboat
Sheena after reports of a kayaker in difficulty at Ardrossan.
The lifeboat crew assembled at the station where the volunteers quickly launched the RNLI inshore lifeboat to assist.
While searching, the second callout came through from Belfast Coastguard as they immediately tasked the inshore lifeboat to an inflatable drifting offshore at South Beach, Ardrossan.
On arrival, an inflatable dinghy with one casualty onboard was located. The casualty was taken aboard the inshore lifeboat and returned to the shore.
The lifeboat crew then returned to Horse Island to search for the kayaker but with nothing found Belfast Coastguard stood down the search pending any further information and the crew headed back to Troon.
On route back, Belfast Coastguard tasked the inshore lifeboat to another incident as reports came in of an inflatable getting blown out to sea at Stevenston.
On arrival, a stand up paddleboarder had located an inflatable with one casualty on board. The casualty, who was confirmed to be the only person on the inflatable, was transferred onto the inshore lifeboat before they were taken back to the beach.
As the lifeboat transferred the casualty to the shore, the next callout quickly came in as the volunteer crew were tasked by Belfast Coastguard to another inflatable being blown out to sea. The inshore lifeboat set off to begin a search and an empty inflatable was located approx. 1 mile offshore. Due to this a search was quickly started. Working alongside Ardrossan Coastguard it was established that no persons were in trouble and the inflatable was returned to the shore.
During the day, the lifeboat crew sighted several empty inflatables which had drifted offshore. After liaising with Belfast Coastguard the crew recovered these to prevent further callouts.
The lifeboat then returned to Troon but as the crew were getting the lifeboat refuelled, at 6.45pm, the lifeboat was once again tasked by Belfast Coastguard after reports of a person on an inflatable in difficulty at South Beach, Troon.
The volunteer crew once again launched and the D class inshore lifeboat was soon heading to the scene.
As the Ardrossan Coastguard team liaised with the initial reporter, the lifeboat crew undertook and search for the inflatable or any persons in difficulty but nothing was found.
With no further reports, and no-one reported missing, the lifeboat crew returned to station, where the inshore lifeboat was made ‘ready for service’ with assistance of the shore crew.
A few hours later, at 10.19pm, the final callout of the day came for both lifeboats as they were requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard to assist as a 21ft vessel with 4 persons on board requested assistance between Troon and Irvine.
Trent class all-weather lifeboat RNLB Jim Moffat and D class inshore lifeboat
Sheena launched to assist. A search was undertaken and the vessel was soon located by the all-weather lifeboat. After assessing the situation, a tow was established to Troon by the inshore lifeboat. On arrival the casualty vessel was secured alongside in the marina with the assistance of the Ardrossan Coastguard Team.
Shortly after midnight, and with the casualty vessel alongside, the lifeboat crew returned to station where both lifeboats were made ‘ready for service’ with the assistance of the shore crew.
On Saturday 24 July, at 7.06pm the inshore lifeboat was once again requested to launch after Belfast Coastguard received reports of an inflatable drifting between Stevenston and Saltcoats.
Also tasked was the Ardrossan Coastguard Team. RNLI D class inshore lifeboat
Sheena was soon underway and headed to the area. After a search and with the lifeboat crew speaking to a couple of kayaks in the area, there was no trace of any persons in difficulty or any inflatables. Satisfied this was a false alarm, the lifeboat was tasked to assist Police and Ardrossan with an incident at Saltcoats but prior to arriving on scene the lifeboat was stood down and returned to station.
At 10.02am on Sunday 25 July 2021, Belfast Coastguard again requested the assistance of the D class inshore lifeboat to assist with an incident at South Beach, Troon involving a horse and rider.
As the lifeboat was being prepared for launch, news came through that the lifeboat was no longer required and the crew and shore crew rehoused the lifeboat.
Troon Lifeboat Community Safety Officer, Vince McWhirter said, ’After so many tragic incidents throughout the UK over the past week, we would urge the public to think about their own safety while visiting the coast and to follow some simple steps to stay safe:
Leave the inflatables at home. They are designed for the swimming pool – not the sea.
If you find yourself in difficulty in the water remember Float to Live
If you see someone in difficulty at sea or along the coast dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’
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.
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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.