Busy day for newly qualified Coxswain at Troon RNLI lifeboat station
On Saturday 19 March 2022, as the sun shone and people took to the opportunity to visit the coast, it turned out to be a busy day for volunteers at Troon lifeboat.
With full time Coxswain Joe Millar off duty for a couple of days, it was time for newly qualified Coxswain Matt Pearce to take charge of the Trent class all-weather lifeboat. Having only successfully passed his Coxswain assessment a couple of weeks ago, it didn’t take too long for Matt to get a few callouts under his belt.
The first callout came at 3.43pm after reports to Belfast Coastguard about several paddleboarders in difficulty off the Pow Burn, south of Troon.
As the pagers sounded, the volunteer lifeboat crew began to make their way to the station to launch the relief RNLI Trent class lifeboat RNLB Edward Duke of Windsor to the scene. Also tasked by Belfast Coastguard was the Ayr Coastguard Rescue Team and the Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter, Rescue 199.
As the lifeboat approached the scene, information came though that 2 casualties were on Meikle Craigs, a rocky area near to the Marine Hotel. The coastguard helicopter crew attended to these casualties before they were left in the care of the coastguard team.
At this time, a second incident was unfolding further south after reports to Belfast Coastguard that there was 2 people in difficulty on a paddleboard and the all-weather lifeboat was re-tasked by Belfast Coastguard to this incident
After a quick search, two persons were located on a paddleboard trying unsuccessfully to make headway towards the shore
The crew launched the XP boat, the daughter boat from the all-weather lifeboat, that was able to reach the casualties before transferring them to the all-weather lifeboat where the crew undertook some initial casualty care.
The lifeboat then returned to Troon where an ambulance was waiting to give the casualties a precautionary check up before they were able to return home and the lifeboat was made ‘ready for service’ with the assistance of the shore crew.
At 7.15pm, just as the lifeboat crew sat down to a formal lifeboat dinner at the South Beach Hotel, the pagers were once again activated by Belfast Coastguard after reports of a paddleboarder drifting offshore at Barassie beach. The duty crew were soon heading out of the hotel leaving their partners along with members of the management team, fundraisers and shop volunteers to start the meal without them.
As the light was fading, the Coastguard broadcast a Mayday relay, and tasked the Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team to the scene.
Thankfully as the lifeboats were launching, Belfast Coastguard notified the crew that the paddleboarder had made it safely ashore and the lifeboats launch was no longer required.
With this information, the lifeboat returned to station before the duty crew were able to head back to the South Beach Hotel and enjoy their meal.
But on this occasion, there was more to come. Just after desserts the next callout came at 9.33pm. Belfast Coastguard were contacted after a 24ft yacht had run aground on the same rocks as the earlier paddleboarders.
This time both lifeboats were tasked, relief Trent class all-weather lifeboat RNLB Edward Duke of Windsor followed later by D class inshore lifeboat Sheena.
Working alongside the Ayr Coastguard Rescue Team, the inshore lifeboat crew located the yacht, and it was established that due to its position the safest option was to anchor the casualty vessel and transfer the three people on board to the all-weather lifeboat.
With this complete, the yacht was left in situ awaiting recovery during daylight hours and the those onboard taken back to the lifeboat station where the lifeboat was once again made ‘ready for service’ with the assistance of the shore crew.
Speaking after a busy day volunteer Coxswain Matt Pearce said, ‘It was good to get my first callout completed as Coxswain aboard Troon all-weather lifeboat however I wasn’t expecting the day to be quite as busy as it was. Thankfully all the callouts today had a positive outcome for those involved.’
With the callouts involving several paddleboarders Vince McWhirter, Troon RNLI lifeboat Community Safety Officer said, ‘If you are heading out to sea as a novice or experienced paddleboarder, its important to take note of the following safety advice:
If you can, go with a friend but if you are going out alone, always tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back.
Don't leave the house without a mobile phone or communication device, such as a VHF radio, and keep it in a waterproof pouch so you can call for help.
Check the weather forecast, wind direction and tide times before you set out.
Always wear a suitable personal flotation device and wear suitable clothing for the time of year.'
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
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