Baltimore Community News Winter 2011

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Published on: December 1, 2011

Baltimore Lifeboat has been no stranger to high profile rescues over its many years of service, but in the eyes of the world, Summer 2011 eclipsed all previous rescues. As so often before the exploits of Baltimore Lifeboat were inexorably linked with the Fastnet Rock when in an astonishing turn of events the lead monohull of the 2011 Fastnet Race, Rambler 100, capsized endangering 21 lives. Louis Jacob writing in the Sunday Independent gave expression to the intense emotion surrounding these events “Baltimore lifeboat is no ordinary lifeboat and Baltimore is no ordinary village. It’s comforting to know that in today’s world of uncertainty and variables, there remain a few constants on which you can count. Last Tuesday morning, I was bursting out of my skin with pride as the news filtered through of Baltimore lifeboat’s heroic rescue of 21 sailors from the yacht Rambler 100 which capsized whilst rounding the Fastnet Rock in West Cork”. These remarkable words captured the prevailing atmosphere following the rescue, accounts of which were carried by the media worldwide. Already the Rambler 100 rescue has featured in an RTE documentary Mayday at the Fastnet and public recognition has followed with an Afloat magazine sailor of the month award for Coxswain Kieran Cotter and lifeboat mechanic and skipper of the Wave Chieftain Jerry Smith. Civic awards have also been forthcoming from the Lord Mayor of Cork County and from Skibbereen Town Council.

Kieran Cotter was ably supported on the ALB that evening by Pat Collins (mechanic), Don O’Donovan, Simon Duggan, Paul Synott, Diarmuid Collins, Ronnie Carthy and RNLI photographer Nigel Millard. Once the upturned yacht had been located and with nightfall approaching, the 16 yachtsmen were brought to safety in relay using an inflatable dinghy despite difficult weather conditions. Baltimore ILB crewed by Micheal Cottrell, Youen Jacob and John Kearney had also assisted in the search. Baltimore Lifeboat’s Jerry Smith played a pivotal role in the recovery of the five Rambler 100 crew who had been separated from the yacht. Jerry in his dive vessel Wave Chieftain was directed by Valentia Coastguard to the probable location of the five casualties on the basis of their likely drift. With the support of his crew Prue, Jerry recovered the five from the water including owner/skipper George David and partner Wendy Touton, who was subsequently air lifted to hospital in Tralee.

On their safe return to the pier in Baltimore, the Rambler 100 survivors were met with a spontaneous outpouring of hospitality from the local community who rallied magnificently donating clothes and providing accommodation to the sailors. Baltimore Sailing Club opened its doors and facilities to the shipwrecked mariners, providing warm food and hot showers and a rousing West Cork welcome.

The excitement of the Rambler 100 rescue may have captured headlines, but other important events essential to the long-term viability of the lifeboat station were at hand too.  Working in the background, local chairperson Declan Tiernan, Lifeboat Operations Manager Tom Bushe and Coxswain Kieran Cotter travelled to RNLI HQ in Poole to secure the delivery of the new Tamar class lifeboat in 2012 despite delays to shore works at Bull Point. Subsequent to their intervention the new Tamar lifeboat Alan Massey is expected to arrive in Baltimore in mid February 2012. The new 26 knot state of the art lifeboat will be provisionally moored east of the lifeboat station and accessed by a boarding boat. Following its arrival a period of intensive training will begin with a view to the new lifeboat going into service on March 16 2012. Shore works on the new afloat berth for the Tamar are expected to commence in January 2012 followed by a complete renovation of the boathouse to accommodate an Atlantic 85 ILB in coming years. It is estimated that in the region of €7 million will be spent in developing what will be the best-equipped lifeboat station in Ireland.

Coxswain Kieran Cotter highlighted the importance of the management and fundraising committees at a recent award ceremony saying that they are “so essential to keeping the station going”. When they are out there on the water Kieran feels he has the support of an entire community behind him and his crew.

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