Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI involved in rescue of man from sinking vessel

Lifeboats News Release

Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI were involved in the rescue of a man whose 9m cabin cruiser took on water and was in danger of sinking off Gunn’s Island in county Down yesterday.

The volunteer crews were requested to launch their lifeboats at 6pm yesterday evening (Thursday 16 September) following a request from Belfast Coastguard to go the aid of the casualty who had abandoned his vessel and had been rescued by the crew of a nearby motorboat.

Portaferry RNLI’s inshore lifeboat helmed by Fergal Glynn and with crew members George Toma, Rosslyn Watret and David Fisher onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene one mile east of Gunn’s Island, situated southeast of the entrance to Strangford Lough.

Newcastle RNLI meanwhile launched its all-weather lifeboat under Coxswain Gerry McConkey and six crew members onboard.

There were Force 4-5 southerly winds at the time and a 2-2.5m sea swell.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crews observed that the casualty who had been on his way to Bangor when his vessel took on water and the engine cut out, had deployed his vessel’s life raft prior to his rescue. The crews observed that the boat was partially submerged, was listing and in a spin.

Having first checked that the casualty was safe and well on the motorboat, Portaferry RNLI proceeded to transfer the man onto the lifeboat before doing a further assessment. The man was cold and in shock but otherwise well. The crew took the life raft onboard and deflated it before bringing the casualty to the nearest safe port at Ardglass where they transferred the casualty into the care of Portaferry Coastguard.

Newcastle RNLI proceeded to deal with the casualty vessel with some crew working to establish an alongside tow while other crew members started the lifeboat’s salvage pump. Due to the sea conditions, a decision was made to keep the pump onboard the lifeboat and instead pass the hose onto the boat to relieve the ingress of water. In calmer waters and in the entrance of Strangford Lough, two crew members were transferred onto the vessel to assess the extent of the flooding. The lifeboat then proceeded to tow the vessel safely back to Strangford Lough.

Speaking following the call out, Portaferry RNLI Helm Fergal Glynn said: ‘We would like to wish the casualty well following his ordeal yesterday evening and commend the crew of the motorboat who were first on scene and rescued him. This operation was a team effort with our colleagues from Newcastle RNLI and Portaferry Coastguard all playing their part to bring both the man and the vessel to safety.’


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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 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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