THE volunteer crews of Portaferry RNLI have had a busy weekend with four separate call outs over the two days.
On Saturday 6 July, the first call was to the aid of three children aged 10, 11 and 14 who were drifting dangerously off shore on an inflatable toy crocodile.
The volunteer crew were already afloat on a public relations exercise at an annual raft race held in Kircubbin County Down, when they got the call to go to the aid of three children who were drifting out to sea on an inflatable toy 18 miles away at Cloughey Bay, County Down.
The volunteer RNLI crew left Kircubbin at 12.50pm and were on the scene in Cloughey Bay at 1.25pm by which time a team from the Northern Ireland Coastguard had already brought the three children to shore.
Brian Bailie, Portaferry RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: ‘With the good weather and the start of the holiday season, it is important that everyone spending a day by the sea take sensible precautions when using inflatable toys designed for use in a swimming pool rather than the open sea.
“Thankfully on this occasion nobody was harmed, but it could very easily have turned into a much more serious incident.”
The volunteer crew were called out for a second time at 4.10pm to the aid of a number of people on board a speedboat that had lost power in Strangford Lough just off Killyleagh.
The crew arrived at the scene at 4.15pm by which time the 15-foot speedboat had already been towed in and was moored at the pontoons at Killyleagh Yacht Club in Strangford Lough County Down.
On both occasions the weather was fine with good visibility and calm seas.
On Sunday 7 July the volunteer crew launched for the third occasion over the weekend to the aid of an injured woman on Salt Island in Strangford Lough.
The weather at the time was partly cloudy with good visibility and calm seas.
The crew arrived at the island at just after 10am to assess the situation before going to pick up two paramedics at Killyleagh and take them to the injured woman on Salt Island.
Once the paramedics had assessed the woman’s injury, they deemed it too serious for the woman to be removed from the island by lifeboat.
A Coastguard helicopter was then called from Dublin, arriving on the scene at 11.20am when the injured woman was loaded onto the helicopter and flown to Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast for treatment.
Later that morning, while returning to the RNLI lifeboat station in Portaferry County Down, the volunteer crew received their fourth call of the weekend to the aid of two adult males onboard a five-metre Dory that had lost power and was drifting just off Ringhaddy Sound in Strangford Lough.
The crew arrived on the scene at 12:05pm and took the two men on board the lifeboat. The volunteer crew then towed the powerless boat into Whiterock Yacht Club near Killinchy where the men were then put ashore and their boat tied up.
When out cruising around in the fine weather, it pays to ensure that you have the right fuel aboard and that your engine is properly serviced by a reputable dealer, and that you have sufficient safety gear such as flares, lifebelts, radio and first aid kit.
Shannon Applaudes RNLI Crews
Jim Shannon MP for Strangford, has thanked the RNLI for their quick response to the near-tragedy as a lilo raft drifted out to sea with 3 young children on board.
He said: “When the sun comes out in the short time we know we all rush off to the sea-side to make the most of it. On Saturday the sunniest day so far, there was however a strong wind and there had to be a rescue mission by the RNLI and their quick action averted disaster. Enjoy the good weather, but be careful at the shore and on the sea. Again our heartfelt thanks to the members of the RNLI – they are always there and we couldn’t do without them.”