RNLI still on the frontline despite Covid crisis

A fisherman and his boat were saved from rough seas by dedicated volunteers at Kinsale’s RNLI which continues to operate 24/7 through the Covid-19 pandemic.
RNLI still on the frontline despite Covid crisis
Kinsale RNLI volunteers David Carter, Felix Milner, Jonathan Connor, and Patryk Meirzejewski.Volunteers remain on call 24/7 during the coronavirus crisis while adhering strictly to the health regulations.

A fisherman and his boat were saved from rough seas by dedicated volunteers at Kinsale’s RNLI which continues to operate 24/7 through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Local fisherman Michael O’Donovan’s boat suffered engine failure north of Hake Head on Tuesday morning.

As smashing seas pushed his boat towards the rocks, his phone, which had lost coverage in a communication blackspot, suddenly picked up a signal and he made one quick lifesaving call.

“It was incredibly lucky that his phone sprang back into life,” said Patricia Tyson of Kinsale’s RNLI.

“He did all the right things, he put on his life jacket, he had a radio with him and a telephone, but there’s a communication blackspot just beyond the harbour and he couldn’t get a signal.

“He was out on his own in quite a small boat. He had engine failure and he was getting pushed out onto the rocks.”

RNLI volunteers quickly got out to Mr O’Donovan in their lifeboat, Miss Sally Anne Baggy II.

As he was towed back to safety, fishermen lined the quay in Kinsale to welcome him back.

“He said he had never been so glad to see someone,” said Ms Tyson. “Another 10 minutes and the boat would have been smashed to pieces.

“The boat would have been gone, his livelihood would have been gone, and even though he had on his lifejacket, he said that he would have been gone as well. He was underneath an overhanging cliff in a swell and he said there was no way he could have clambered on top of it.”

Volunteer rescue services are still saving lives during the coronavirus pandemic while adhering to Government health guidelines.

Kinsale RNLI lifeboat Miss Sally Anne Baggy II assisting skipper Michael O’Donovan and his fishing boat north of Hake Head
Kinsale RNLI lifeboat Miss Sally Anne Baggy II assisting skipper Michael O’Donovan and his fishing boat north of Hake Head

Members of Kinsale RNLI are on call 24/7 but the station is closed until the boat needs to be launched in an emergency and strict hygiene and personal protective equipment protocols are followed by volunteers at all times.

“There’s no physical training but there are still fantastic online training resources — for example, all the new recruits are working on an online navigation course — so useful skills can still be acquired while we are in lockdown,” said Ms Tyson.

“And we’re ready to leap back into action when a call comes.”

To limit social contact, the station designates four people to respond to calls on a given day to avoid 15 or 20 people turning up at the station unnecessarily.

“It’s a very clean, efficient, and safe operation,” said Ms Tyson. “We completely disinfect the station and scrub the boat after each use. We’re very stringently adhering to the health regulations and working together as a team.”

She said that Tuesday’s rescue was the first call they had since before St Patrick’s Day.

“This usually is a very busy time for the lifeboat,” she said.

“A lot of people are out swimming, not knowing how treacherous the water can be. And people are usually starting to get out kayaking and paddleboarding. But now Kinsale is so, so quiet.”

Jon Mathers of neighbouring Crosshaven RNLI said their service has seen approximately 90% less calls since the coronavirus lockdown.

“There’s always that temptation to go to the water when the weather’s good,” he said, “but from what I can see people are obeying the rules.

“People may think, ‘I’m safe and socially distancing on a boat’, but other agencies have to come out to rescue you if you get in trouble.

“Happily, people seem to be staying away.”

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.