DONAGHADEE’S Royal National Lifeboat Institution Lifeboat and its crew are ready for their first ‘shout’ of 2016. On Sunday Coxswain Philip McNamara and the volunteers mustered for the latest in a series of vital training exercises to ensure they are prepared for the challenges of the year ahead. They train at sea every two weeks.
The Trent Class Lifeboat, Saxon, was hauled up a slipway in Carrickfergus last week to have its hull power-washed and a fresh coat of antifouling paint applied. The task is undertaken every six months to ensure the £2 million vessel is always at peak performance and can reach the scene of an emergency at 25 knots.
Last year Donaghadee’s RNLI volunteers responded to 23 calls for help starting in January when they battled ‘atrocious seas’ to bring an injured workman from the Copeland Islands where he has working on the lighthouse. The Lifeboat rescued stranded kayakers and their dogs. They came to the rescue of a member of the crew on a cross channel ferry who had taken seriously ill during a night crossing.
Said Philip, “It has been a relatively quiet winter for us but the number of rescue requests usually picks up around Easter and reaches a peak in summer. The crew is ready and the lifeboat is ready too. Every time we put to sea volunteers risk their lives to save others but we are trained and experienced, to deal with emergencies and are part of a dedicated team which includes the Coastguard, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and Air Sea Rescue.”
The Donaghadee crew is at full strength but Lifeboat Operations Manager Peter Irwin said: “We would like two more trainees to join us and I would be happy to hear from suitable people in the town who feel they can give their time to the charity that saves lives at sea.”
The RNLI enjoyed its 192nd birthday last week and a Lifeboat has been stationed in Donaghadee since 1910.