Donaghadee Lifeboat

RNLI volunteers meet ‘the beast’ from Dublin

A TOTAL of 177 people enjoyed a guided tour of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s all-weather lifeboat Saxon on Open Day, Saturday (Aug 16).

Adults and children from across Northern Ireland, and farther afield, enjoyed a look inside Donaghadee’s £2 million Trent class lifeboat. The vessel has been called out 19 times this year rescuing holidaymakers, yachtsmen and fishermen and saving four lives.

It was a busy weekend for the Saxon’s crew for later in the day they competed and won the annual RNLI raft race which raises money for the charity that saves lives at sea. It is the second year in a row the RNLI team has beaten competitors from local pubs and sports clubs.

On Sunday the volunteers were called upon again – this time for an important familiarisation briefing with the Irish Coastguard which flew its new Sikorsky S92 rescue helicopter from Dublin to touch down on the Commons at Donaghadee.

Winchman Ken Skelly and his team gave UK Coastguards and RNLI crews from Donaghadee and Bangor a detailed briefing on the aircraft’s operational capabilities. “It’s a beast of a machine,” said Ken. “It has a top speed of 200mph and a range of 400 miles but the down draught is powerful enough to capsize a small boat.”

There are five Irish Coastguard S92s based around the Irish coast which are called out on a daily basis and often work with RNLI volunteers saving lives.