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Portaferry RNLI volunteer crew assist two people onboard 35ft yacht

Lifeboats News Release

HM Coastguard requested the launch of Portaferry RNLI inshore lifeboat on Friday evening (24th May) at 6.17pm to assist a 35ft yacht which was making slow progress after having suffered engine failure 8 miles to the north-east of Strangford bar.

RNLI/Lissa McCully

Portaferry lifeboat launches as the Strangford ferry departs

As friends and family arrived at Portaferry Lifeboat Station to dedicate a bench to the memory of former crew member Billy Ellison, the lifeboat launched with Helm Chris Adair and volunteer Crew Members Scott Blackwood, Oliver Rogers and Gary Meehan onboard. Conditions at the time were a force 3 - 4 southerly light breeze, slightly choppy, and good visibility.

Once on scene, both members of yacht's crew and their dog, were observed to be safe and well and after an assessment of the situation the yacht crew were happy and able to hoist their mainsail and make their own way to the safety of Ardglass Marina.

Portaferry lifeboat returned to the station at 7.30pm and after washing and refuelling the boat, the crew enjoyed refreshments with the Ellison family and past Portaferry RNLI lifeboat crew members. Comments were made that perhaps Billy Ellison was watching on.

Then again at 8.30pm the Coastguard contacted Portaferry Lifeboat Operations Manager, Heather Kennedy to reports that the yacht was now 1.5 miles out of Ardglass but needed assistance to negotiate the entrance to the marina. With no other vessel available to assist, the lifeboat crew readied themselves and launched immediately.

Once on scene, a tow was established ensuring the yacht could safely enter the marina where it was met by Newcastle Coastguard. Heather said:

'We commend the crew onboard the yacht for raising the alarm when their engine failed. This is always the correct thing to do and a situation can quickly change and greater risks may arise.'

The RNLI would remind all boat owners to check their vessel's engine to ensure they are ready for summer. Always check the weather and tides before venturing out. Always wear a lifejacket or suitable personal flotation device for your activity and always carry a means of calling for help. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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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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.