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Twelve Rowers Rescued By Holyhead RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

It was a very early start for Holyhead RNLI volunteers today, (Sunday 13 August) when their all-weather lifeboat was called out at daybreak, to 12 people on board a rowing vessel in trouble off the Anglesey coast.


A crewman establishes a tow of the 12-person rowing vessel

Crew pagers sounded just after 5.30am, with HM Coastguard citing the rowing vessel, on its way to Northern Ireland with 12 rowers on board, needing assistance when one of them fell ill.

The craft was approximately 11 nautical miles off Carmel Head, and crew headed quickly to Holyhead port and launched the Severn-class Christopher Pearce at 5.55am.

The lifeboat arrived at the location just after 6.30am, and found one casualty with severe sickness, a low heart rate and confusion, and another who had fallen overboard and had been retrieved from the water by other rowing crew. Various other rowers were suffering from fatigue.

After assessing the situation, the lifeboat volunteers launched the Y-boat, the daughter craft of the ALB, and deployed it to evacuate the two casualties from the rowing boat. They were quickly brought aboard the ALB, and given immediate casualty care by lifeboat crew.

Meanwhile, it was agreed that the rowing vessel, which had left Amlwch at midnight and had been heading to Bangor, Northern Ireland, needed towing back to shore. While initially Holyhead was decided as the destination, after an assessment of the weather, wind direction and the condition of the casualties, it was agreed that Amlwch would be a more suitable option, and the lifeboat and casualty craft then made for Amlwch at a steady pace of 5 knots.

Initially, an ambulance was requested to meet one of the casualties on the shoreside, but after skilled casualty care by the lifeboat crew, the woman began to make a rapid recovery, and the ambulance was stood down. Instead, Cemaes cliff rescue team volunteers were asked to meet the lifeboat in Amlwch to take over care of both casualties.

En route back to shore, regular welfare checks were made on both casualties, and te lifeboat arrived safely back in Amlwch just before 9am, where the Cemaes coastguard volunteers helped us evacuate both casualties on to shore and into their care.

The lifeboat left Amlwch at 10.10am, and arrived back at her berth in Holyhead an hour later, where she was washed down and prepared for any further calls.

Speaking about the rescue afterwards, Holyhead coxswain Tony Price said:

‘This was quite a different call for us – a difficult target to find, and a difficult target to adapt due to the weather conditions - and initially an unknown entity regarding the condition of casualties. All of the lifeboat crew worked exceptionally well together, from deployment of the Y-boat, boat handling, casualty evacuation and care, and the mechanics team in the engine room; everything was done with the utmost diligence and outstanding skill. I’m extremely proud of everyone who turned out for the call.’

He added:

‘We also must thank our friends from Cemaes cliff rescue team, who as always showed their professionalism and teamwork to work with us on this call.’

Praising the actions of the rowing crew, he said:

‘The two professional rowers on board need commending for being steady throughout the incident, and for calling for help when they did. The vessel was in excellent condition, and the rowers were all experienced, but the conditions of the Irish Sea today were overwhelming.’

He also thanked the Amlwch Port café staff, who opened early to feed, warm up and refresh all the casualties and crew.

‘The reception we had was wonderful, and made all the difference,’ he said.

For any further information, please contact Vicki Owens, Holyhead Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07531 681409, or email [email protected]


The 12-person rowing vessel assisted by Holyhead RNLI crew


Holyhead lifeboat Christopher Pearce berthed in Amlwch after the rescue on Sunday

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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