Larne RNLI exercise turned into alert after ‘good intent’ call

Larne RNLI launches to a motor boat with engine difficulties on August 23. Picture: RNLI/Larne RNLI
Larne RNLI launches to a motor boat with engine difficulties on August 23. Picture: RNLI/Larne RNLI

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Council had first-hand experience of the vital role played by the RNLI when an exercise he was observing turned into an alert on Thursday.

Larne all-weather lifeboat and inshore lifeboat were on exercise in Larne Lough with Cllr Paul Reid and his wife Carol on board when Belfast Coastguards tasked the volunteers on service.

A member of the public reported an overturned vessel with four people on board in Drains Bay. The lifeboat visitors were returned to shore and the all-weather lifeboat made its way to Drains Bay. On scene, the upturned vessel was found to be sea cadets performing capsize drills.

Speaking following the call out, Larne RNLI Coxswain Frank Healy said: “This incident proved to be a false alarm with good intent and we would like to thank the concerned member of the public who alerted the Coastguard. If you suspect someone is in trouble at sea always ring 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

It was the third call-out in as many days for the team. Mr Healy added: “This has been a busy week for our volunteer crew who drop everything to answer the call when their pagers sound. Our crews are highly trained and skilled, and excellent team work ensured that all three launches were completed safely and successfully.”

On Tuesday of last week at 1.45pm both vessels were launched following a request from Belfast Coastguard. A small motor boat had been reported overdue having launched the previous day and no contact made since. Following further information from Belfast Coastguard, Larne inshore lifeboat made way to a motor boat North-West of Number 1 buoy. On making contact it was confirmed the crew on board were those reported missing however all were well with no engine difficulties and able to make their way back to shore.

Larne RNLI Helm, Barry Kirkpatrick advises: “It’s essential to have a clear plan when going to sea including checking the weather and tides before you leave and telling someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. If vessels do not return at the expected time we would urge members of the public to contact the Coastguard by phoning 999 as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, August 23 at 6.15pm, the inshore lifeboat was launched following reports of a 15ft motor boat with engine difficulties near Ballygally Head. Larne Inshore lifeboat crew were quickly on scene but no motor boat was visible in the area. A search commenced and the vessel with two men on board was located three miles North East of Ballygally head. A tow was established and the boat taken to the safety of Tweeds Port, Carnfunnock.

Larne RNLI Deputy Launching Authority, Philip Ford-Hutchinson, commented: “The casualty was located some distance off shore, unable to make their own way to safety. We were pleased to see them wearing lifejackets and they made the correct decision in calling for help.”

Larne RNLI are currently looking for new volunteer crew members. If you have good general fitness, can work well in a team and have the ability to learn new skills, this role could be for you. For further information and online application details see Larne Lifeboat Facebook page: facebook.com/larne,lifeboat