Baltimore Community News Spring 2008

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Published on: April 9, 2008

This has been a very busy spring for Baltimore lifeboat with preparations for the new inshore lifeboat, three shouts, an exercise with the Schull Inshore Lifeboat and the rolling out of the Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer Strategy.

Lifeboat crew met recently with representatives of Schull Community Lifeboat to discuss combined operations and training. It was decided to conduct a joint training exercise in February to practice working together as a team and to pass on some useful RNLI skills and procedures to the Schull crew. The exercise was deemed successful and it is expected that further joint exercises and indeed combined lifesaving operations will follow. The Schull lifeboat crew were able to draw on the skills acquired by our own newly trained inshore lifeboat helms who will crew the Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat when it arrives in Baltimore in April. The Schull lifeboat is similar in size and design to the RNLI inshore class.

All elements of the project to have the Baltimore Atlantic 75 operational by the Summer are coming together. Recruitment and training of crew, supply of equipment and plans for the base at the Pier are all underway. We anticipate some intensive training during April when the boat and its launching rig arrives.

In addition to the significant time and resources spent rescuing those in distress, the RNLI’s is committed to prevention and education. It actively promotes sea safety through its Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer (LSSO).

Our local LSSO at Baltimore Lifeboat Station is Michael Walsh, a former member of the lifeboat crew with a vast amount of experience. Michael can be contacted on 086 2663766

The LSSO is a voluntary role attached to the local lifeboat station. The LSSO acts as the local point of contact for anyone looking for help and advice on any sea safety related issues. This can include anything from a quick discussion on any one item of safety equipment, such as lifejackets for example, to local information relating to local hazards, tides weather and so on for a visiting boat user, to arranging a visit on board a boat to look at all the safety equipment on board. In addition, the LSSO will be able to arrange for presentations and demonstrations to local clubs and groups covering areas such as lifejackets and buoyancy aids or marine distress flares. The LSSO can also arrange to have an RNLI sea safety presence at local events as appropriate, such as regattas, Lifeboat Station Open Days, maritime festivals and so on. There will be a lifejacket demonstration on Sunday 25th May during the Wooden Boat Festival. There will also be a sea safety stand at the Lifeboat Open Day on Sunday 29th June . The open Day will be held on the pier this year so that members of the public can learn about both our all weather lifeboat and our new inshore lifeboat.

There have been three shouts already this Spring. The  Lifeboat was called into action early in the  New Year to assist a fishing vessel in distress West of Cape Clear Island. Valentia Coastguard tasked the lifeboat at 1203 on January 2nd, when a 24ft inshore fishing vessel became fouled in her fishing gear in heavy seas 2 miles off the shore. With South Easterly winds just short of gale force and a heavy swell of 5-6 meters, conditions at sea were challenging. The 2 fishermen were in real danger of their small craft being swamped. The fishing vessel managed to free herself from the pot ropes and was escorted by the Lifeboat to the safety of North Harbour in Cape Clear, her home port.

Crewing the boat for this first ‘shout’ of 2008 were Coxswain Kieran Cotter, Mechanic Pat Collins and crew of Aiden Bushe, Michael and Brendan Cottrell, Youen Jacob, Ciaran Cotter and Brian McSweeney. Cathal Cottrell, Ronan Callanan, Ger Sheehy and Kate Callanan assisted on the slip with the launch and recovery.

The lifeboat was launched  at 0130 during the height of a storm on Sunday 3rd February. Flares had been reported off Castletownsend and it was feared a vessel may have been in distress. The Coast Guard coordinated a search involving Baltimore and Courtmacsherry Lifeboats along with Coast Rescue personnel. With South Westerly winds reaching strong gale force 9 and a heavy swell of 5-6 meters, conditions at sea were challenging. The Lifeboats conducted a search along the coast in dangerous on-shore winds. The search proved fruitless as no trace was found of any vessel in the area. It is assumed that the sighting of flares was not associated with any vessel at sea but it is important that members of the public do report such sightings. Distress flares are always distinctly red in colour with a pinkish glow around them and descend slowly from a height by parachute or may be handheld and waved from a boat in distress. The  Hilda Jarrett returned to the boathouse at 0530 after a tough 4 hours at sea. Recovery at the slip was hampered by strong crosswinds but on the second attempt the boat was safely rehoused.

Crewing the lifeboat were Coxswain Kieran Cotter, Mechanic Gerry Smith, Don O Donovan, Revlin Minihane Sean McCarthy and Ronnie Carthy. Micheal Cottrell, Rianne Smith and Kate Callanan assisted on the slip with the launch and recovery.

On 27th February, the lifeboat was tasked at 0152 to bring a doctor and medical supplies to the Cape Clear.The crew of the Hilda Jarrett, mustered and launched to wait at Baltimore Pier for the arrival of the doctor, traveling from Bantry. Having taken the doctor to North Harbour in Cape Clear, the lifeboat crew waited to see if further assistance could be offered. The patient was then evacuated on the lifeboat to a waiting ambulance on the mainland, arriving at Baltimore Pier at 04:05. The patient was then taken to Bantry hospital for further medical care.On board the Baltimore lifeboat, for this service were Coxwain – Kieran Cotter, Mechanic Cathal Cottrell, Crewmembers Brendan Cottrell, Micheal Cottrell, Pat Collins, Sean McCarthy & John O’Flynn. Slip crew ; Rianne Smith, Jerry Smith, Kate Callanan & Vincent Roantree.

Finally we wish to give a fond farewell to Collin Williams RNLI Divisional Inspector Ireland, who is taking up new duties in Wales. Colin has been a great supporter of Baltimore Lifeboat Station and we will miss his energy, enthusiasm and good humour.

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