Belfast Telegraph

190 years saving lives at sea

By Claire Williamson

The RNLI has rescued thousands during its long and proud history. On its 190th anniversary, here are just 10 of many occasions when crew members in Northern Ireland put their own lives at risk to assist others.

1. A fisherman from Portavogie was in the water for 45 minutes after his boat sank on September 18, 2013 off the coast of Co Down.

Weather conditions at the time were rough seas with force five to six winds.

RNLI lifeboats from Portaferry and Donaghadee were launched within minutes of a mayday being received by HMCG, along with the Irish Coastguard helicopter Rescue 116.

Samuel Cully was later reunited with the volunteer crew at Portaferry who saved him.

2. Fourteen kayakers got into difficulty off Killyleagh in Strangford Lough on March 14, 2014.

The volunteer lifeboat crew at Portaferry RNLI were involved in a large scale rescue of the group of three adults and 11 teenagers.

Four of the group had capsized and were in the freezing water when the lifeboat arrived.

The lifeboat crew immediately went to the aid of the four kayakers in the water.

They recovered them onto the lifeboat and also took a further nine on board from their kayaks.

The remaining group had tied their kayaks together to prevent them from drifting further.

One of the adults stayed with the kayaks while the lifeboat crew returned with the rescued group to Killyleagh pier.

3. A male swimmer tried to help a woman and child who were blown out to sea on an inflatable dinghy in Portmuck.

The swimmer got tired and couldn't reach them so Larne RNLI was called out and rescued all on May 26, 2013.

4. It was a long night for Larne RNLI on November 29, 2013 when it had an all-night call out.

It towed a vessel from the Mull of Kintyre in winds gusting force eight.

It was also tasked to assist Campbeltown Lifeboat towing a large fish carrying vessel that had broken down just off the Mull of Kintyre.

A Campbeltown crew member had been injured during the initial tow.

Once on scene, Larne RNLI took over the tow until the crew member had been treated.

5. A calf fell down a cliff face and became stranded on the coastline.

The stretch was inaccessible and the alarm was raised when a local farmer requested assistance.

After assessing all options it was decided that the only way to recover the animal safely was take it in harness and float it a short distance out to sea.

The calf was carefully swaddled in a lifeboat trailer net and tethered to the lifeboat.

The lifeboat crew then towed the animal slowly a quarter-of-a-mile along to the coastline and returned it to the relieved farmer on June 22, 2013.

6. Lifeboats battled bad weather and rough seas to search for a man after they received reports that he had entered the sea after his dog got into difficulty. Both Newcastle RNLI's inshore and all weather lifeboats were launched on January 3, 2014 at 9am.

But the search was stood down at 10.30am after the Coastguard declared it to be a false alarm.

7. A family of six were rescued on July 7, 2013 after they got into difficulty in Castlerock seaside beach in Co Londonderry.

The family including a man, woman and four children were all on bodyboards when they got caught in what appeared to be a flash rip, a strong current running out to sea.

Castlerock RNLI lifeguards responded and rescued them all.

8. In 1953, a Bronze Medal and the British Empire Medal were awarded to coxswain Hugh Nelson for the courage shown during a service to the car ferry Princess Victoria which sank during a storm on January 31.

Donaghadee lifeboat saved 31 people, but sadly 133 people died.

9. Two jet skiers got into difficulty on the north coast in April this year.

The volunteer crew at Portrush RNLI was alerted on Sunday, April 6 that two jet skiers were in difficulty at Benone Beach near Magillian.

The RNLI was alerted by a friend of the two men who noticed that one had fallen off the jet ski into the water.

The weather was blustery and chilly and the sea was choppy and extremely cold.

The all-weather crew quickly located the two men who by this stage were very cold.

The crew got the two young men on board and returned to base where they handed the casualties over to a waiting ambulance.

10. Bangor RNLI rescued a woman who was onboard a tall ship on June 7, 2014 after she fell and broke her leg during the incident.

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