A New Dawn for Baltimore Lifeboat Station

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Published on: October 21, 2008

Date: 21/10/2008                                                        ]

Next Sunday 26th October will be a proud day for the volunteer crews and fundraisers at Baltimore Lifeboat Station. The new RNLI inshore lifeboat Bessie will be officially welcomed to Baltimore in a blessing of the boats ceremony scheduled to take place at 3pm on Sunday at Baltimore Pier.

Bessie, an Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat, is temporarily located in a purpose built compound at Baltimore Pier. Measuring 7.3 metres in length with a top speed of 32 knots and an endurance of 3 hours, she is operated by a helm and crew of two. Currently she is launched by a tractor and trailer, but ultimately will be slip launched from the lifeboat station at Bull Point. The inshore lifeboat provides a rapid response to inshore emergencies.

The Atlantic (B class) lifeboats are Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) with twin outboard motors and can operate in conditions up to near gale Force 7. They were first developed at Atlantic College in Wales under the guidance of the late Rear Admiral Desmond J Hoare. The first official B Class Atlantic lifeboat was put on station at Atlantic College in 1973. Rear Admiral  Hoare was the founding Head Master of the Atlantic College. Born in Cobh, he took early retirement from the British Navy, where he was a marine engineer and designer, to set up the College. The  RNLI  officially gave Rear Admiral Hoare £1 for the RIB design can you imagine if the semi rigid concept had been patented by him, what an income he’d have had from it! He is survived by his wife Naomi, who also taught at the college and who made the first neoprene wetsuits for students of the college. The Hoares played a very important role in the Baltimore Sailing Club when they retired to West Cork and indeed donated an early prototype of the RIB as a crash boat to the club.

The new Atlantic 75, Bessie was made available as a resource to the Irish Coast Guard in June and since then she has exceeded all expectations in providing a rapid response to incidents on the Islands and in the waters adjacent to Baltimore Harbour. To recount just one incident, Bessie and her crew provided an invaluable service in September when the crew attended a yachtsman who had had his fingers severed in a yachting accident on Cape Clear Island. Bessie was able to make the journey to Cape Clear in just 15 minutes, a journey that would normally take at least 40 minutes by ferry.

Baltimore is fortunate to have two lifeboats co-located within the village, the all-weather lifeboat Hilda Jarrett and the inshore lifeboat, Bessie. They provide a complementary service ensuring that all incidents can be responded to in the most effective manner.

In a small community it is quite astounding to see the level of commitment to supporting the RNLI. Twenty-five individuals were trained in variety of roles to ensure the safe operation of the RIB both onshore and offshore. For some this involved attending the RNLI Lifeboat Training College in Poole, followed by intensive local training supported by the RNLI Training Division, Ireland.

Fr. Kevin O’Reagan and Rev. Bruce Hayes will give the blessing accompanied by hymns performed by the choir of the Church of the Sacred Heart, Rathmore. All are welcome to this special celebration, which could not take place without the generous support of sponsors and volunteers.

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