Achill Island RNLI rescue lone sailor in 14 hour overnight operation
Achill Island RNLI were involved in a 14 hour rescue overnight, (Sunday/Monday 22/23 May), to a lone sailor onboard a yacht which had lost power almost 40 nautical miles west of Achill Island.
The volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard to assist the sailor and their racing yacht which was in difficulty almost 40 miles off the west coast, having lost all power. The loss of power meant that the sailor onboard had no means of communication. A fixed wing aircraft located the yacht’s position which was then provided to Achill Island RNLI to assist with planning what became an overnight passage.
The Trent class lifeboat launched at 8.30pm under Coxswain Dave Curtis with a crew of six onboard including mechanic Michael Cattigan, Terry Hogarth, Ken Quinn, Ivan Swarbrigg, Stephen McGreal and Thomas Ruddy. The Sligo based Irish Coast Guard Helicopter, Rescue 118 was later tasked so that they could confirm the location of the yacht and provide light for the lifeboat crew who arrived in fading light. There were north westerly winds at the time with Force 3-4 sea conditions which began to calm during late morning.
The lifeboat located the yacht at approximately 11pm with the sailor onboard. The man was physically well, but tired from his ordeal. Once on scene, Rescue 118 departed and the lifeboat crew carried out an assessment of the yacht, which was found to be in good condition. However, without power, the sailor could not lower his sail, so he had no steering control and was at the mercy of the wind. A risk assessment was carried out and it was decided to tow the yacht to nearest safe port at Clare Island.
Establishing a tow proved challenging with the sail remaining up amid 1.5-2m swells, but the efforts of the crew meant that a safe tow was eventually established and a tow commenced in the early hours of the morning and continued overnight. The lifeboat and the yacht reached Clare Island at 8.55am this morning, where the yacht was safely moored. Happy that the sailor was well and recovering from is ordeal, the volunteer crew left Clare Island at 9.10am and arrived back in Achill Island shortly before 10am this morning, having spent almost 14 hours at sea.
Speaking after the call out, Ciaran Needham, Achill Island RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: ‘We were delighted to be able to assist in this multi-agency rescue during the night, which thankfully resulted in the safe rescue of a lone sailor. Our crew worked hard in difficult conditions throughout, and we want to thank all those who helped make their task easier than it might otherwise have been. The Irish Coast Guard at Malin Head excellently coordinated the rescue and we are grateful to the crew of Rescue 118 for their help and assistance when we reached the lone sailor, who thankfully, is safe and well.’
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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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