More than 1,000 people were rescued by Irish lifeboats last year, it was revealed today.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) said launches were up 13% on the previous year.
Gareth Morrison, the charity’s deputy divisional inspector, blamed the rise on an increase in people taking boats out for fun.
“It has become clear that more people are using the sea and inland waters for recreation and demand for the lifeboats continues to be high,” he said.
Dun Laoghaire was the busiest lifeboat station, where the crew launched 68 times and rescued 92 people.
Volunteers were also busy in Bangor, Co Down, where they rescued 69 people, as well as the Aran Islands, Co Galway, and Enniskillen, which rescued more than 100 sailors between them.
Crosshaven in Cork, Arranmore in Co Donegal and Howth, Co Dublin all seen high call-outs.
Machinery failure was the most common cause for a lifeboat launch, followed by a vessel becoming stranded or grounded, and boats believed to be in danger or trouble.
Volunteers have also set to sea in the case of medical emergencies, missing people searches and – in 12 cases – to animals in trouble.
Mr Morrison said the RNLI was hoping the public will help the charity deal with the increased demand by supporting its annual fundraising day next Friday.
“Funds raised will help the RNLI provide its volunteer lifeboat crews with the training and equipment they need to save lives at sea and selected inland waters,” he said.
“The charity has set a target of €100,000 and is particularly asking people to ’Hunt for the Punt’, by searching out and donating their old Irish money.”