Donaghadee RNLI assist two yachts in a day – one French and one German

Lifeboats News Release

Donaghadee Lifeboat was launched yesterday, (Thursday 9 June) to assist a French yacht which had run aground at Ballyferris Point, in County Down.

Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat Saxon

RNLI/Margaret Ramm

Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat Saxon

The volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch by Belfast coastguard yesterday at 11.56am to reports of an 9-metre yacht which had run aground on rocks just off Ballyferris Point, roughly 6 miles South of Donaghadee.

The yacht, with a French lone sailor onboard was en route from Arklow to Bangor when he ran aground on rocks and used his VHF radio to contact the coastguard for help.

The lifeboat made full speed in a moderate sea, fair visibility and with a fresh south easterly wind were on scene at 12.24pm. The crew assessed the situation and with the aid of a local RIB, passed a 150 metre towline to the yacht. A tow was attempted but due to a rapidly falling tide and the yacht being well stuck, but with no danger to the yacht or sailor, the decision was made for the lifeboat to return to Donaghadee and allow the tide to rise.

Donghadee Lifeboat Saxon was relaunched and back on scene at approximately 3pm, where the tide had come in enough to allow the yacht to begin to float. Crew members launched the smaller daughter boat from the lifeboat with Chris Stewart and David Cull aboard and re-attached a new towline. A fresh attempt was made to tow the yacht off the rocks again but was unsuccessful. Eventually the yacht did float free itself and Chris Stewart boarded the yacht. An experienced sailor himself, Chris was able to sail the yacht and allow the gentleman to asses the damage, of which there didn’t appear to anything major.

After discussion with the yachtsman, it was agreed that he would be towed to the safety of Bangor Marina where he could fully assess for damage before attempting to continue his journey toward Scotland and on to Norway.

The yacht was assisted with its berthing in Bangor Marina by Bangor coastguard Rescue team.

As the lifeboat was leaving Bangor Harbour at 5.53pm to return to Donaghadee they were requested again by Belfast coastguard to attend a second yacht who needed assistance.

The 11-metre German yacht with a couple onboard was struggling to make headway through Donaghadee Sound. They were sailing toward Bangor and due to a strong tide, a drop in the wind and the loss of their main engine, they were not making any headway.

They contacted the coastguard via their VHF radio and asked for assistance as they were beginning to suffer from exhaustion.

Saxon arrived on scene to the yacht which was at the north end of Big Copeland Island, less than 10 minutes later and a crew member proceeded to pass a tow rope to the struggling vessel.

At this stage the conditions had improved slightly compared to earlier in the day, visibility was excellent and the sea state was slight.

After a 40 minute tow the yacht and its tired crew were delivered to the safety of Bangor Marina and once again were assisted with berthing by four of the coastguard Rescue Team.

The lifeboat and the crew returned to station and made the boat ready for its next service.

Philip McNamara, Donaghadee Lifeboat Coxswain commented ‘A busy week for our crew members as we did have three callouts this week and also a visit from our Chief Executive. As always, I commend the crew, as they are a credit to the station with their dedication and ability to turn up and get the boat to sea at the drop of a hat.'

'We would like to extend our gratitude to the owner of the local RIB who assisted us with the French yacht, it is much appreciated.'

'Even the most experienced sailors can run into difficulty or suffer from fatigue, and it is a positive thing to recognise when you need assistance and ask for it as early as possible – so well done to both yacht owners in their professionalism. We do always recommend that before going to sea you have a working means of communicating with the coastguard, carry lifejackets and safety equipment, lots of advice can be found on the RNLI website.’


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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.