27 September 2023
By Tom Collins
Baltimore RNLI were called out during Storm Agnes this afternoon (Wednesday 27 September) to assist a yacht which was dragging its anchor in the Ilen River in West Cork.
The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all weather lifeboat at 3.48pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a yacht on the Ilen River that was dragging its anchor in storm force winds.
The Baltimore lifeboat crew arrived at the yacht at 3.59pm, by which time the yacht with one person on board had gone aground. Coxswain Pat Collins assessed the situation and decided that a tow was necessary. Volunteer crew members Micheal Cottrell and David Ryan were put aboard the casualty vessel at 4.06pm to rig a tow and buoy off and cut clear the anchor so the yacht could be towed free. At 4.12pm the all weather lifeboat with the casualty vessel under tow then proceeded to Baltimore Harbour, which was the nearest safe and suitable port.
Due to the storm force conditions with winds gusting to force 12 (65 knots) at times Coxswain Pat Collins requested that Baltimore’s inshore lifeboat was launched to assist the all weather lifeboat in berthing the casualty vessel to a secure mooring within Baltimore Harbour, close to Baltimore Lifeboat Station. Baltimore inshore lifeboat launched at 4.23pm and attached a line to the mooring to assist the lifeboat crew that were on the casualty vessel to attach to the mooring more easily. Baltimore all weather lifeboat arrived at the mooring with the casualty vessel in tow and the volunteer lifeboat crew on the inshore lifeboat passed a line to the two volunteer lifeboat crew on the yacht and they then secured the casualty vessel to the mooring. Due to the poor weather conditions within the harbour, Coxswain Pat Collins and Helm of Baltimore’s inshore lifeboat Kieran Collins made the decision that it would be safer for the inshore lifeboat to collect the two all weather crew from the yacht. Once the casualty vessel was secured and the skipper of the yacht was happy, Baltimore’s all weather lifeboat made the short journey back to the lifeboat house, arriving at 5.08pm whilst the inshore lifeboat came alongside the casualty vessel to collect the two remaining volunteer lifeboat crew. The inshore lifeboat then returned to the lifeboat station, arriving at 5.20pm.
There were seven volunteer crew onboard the all weather lifeboat, Coxswain Pat Collins, mechanic Cathal Cottrell and crew members Jerry Smith, Micheal Cottrell, Don O’Donovan, Colin Whooley and David Ryan. There were four volunteer crew onboard the inshore lifeboat, Helm Kieran Collins and crew members Kieran O’Driscoll, Rob O’Leary and James Kitt. Assisting at the lifeboat station were Rianne Smith, Marion MacFeely, Seamus O’Driscoll, Brian McSweeney and Sean McCarthy. Conditions during the call out were testing with strong gale force winds of force 8 to 9, gusting up to storm force 11-12 and a large sea swell.
Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘Both of our lifeboats were requested to launch in the height of Storm Agnes and conditions were very testing with strong wind, rough seas and poor visibility. There was excellent teamwork shown by both crews throughout the call out and it is a testimony to the high quality of training that the RNLI lifeboat crews receive. As always we are very grateful to our volunteer lifeboat crew and shorecrews who turn up regardless of the conditions to help people at sea. Due to the high winds and heavy rain still expected to continue into early Thursday morning we urge people to exercise extreme caution, particularly along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers. If you see someone else in danger in the water call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’