More than 200 sailors have returned safely to shore after a fleet of yachts racing on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland were hit by a storm.
A rescue operation was quickly underway to help those involved, including children, and Ulster Hospital in Belfast declared a major incident.
Belfast Coastguard said the sailing dinghies were hit by a sudden squall amid 60mph winds. 20 sailors ended up in the water with 10 of them suffering injuries, most showing signs of hypothermia.
The Bangor and Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI lifeboats, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter along with the helicopter from RAF Valley were all sent to the scene around 2pm and everyone has now been accounted for.
Belfast Coastguard watch manager Liam Colquhoun, said: “We have now been told by our rescue units on scene that everyone has safely returned to shore and that no one is missing.
“We believe 20 people ended up in the water after their boats capsized this afternoon, 10 of them requiring medical attention.”
“The weather conditions on scene have been pretty treacherous, with winds gusting up to 60mph. We’re very thankful that everyone has now returned to shore safe and well.”
Pratical Boat Owner: Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has been forced to retire from the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race after splitting the mainsail on his yacht, Grey Power.
The mainsail split between second and third reefs and the mast was also damaged. Sir Robin and his crew member Simon Clay are now heading for Calais in France, which is the nearest port that can take the Open 60.
The race started yesterday morning off the Isle of Wight after being postponed due to bad weather on Sunday.
Sir Robin said all was fine on board and he had had a great sail otherwise and had hit 21 knots, but repairs will take a couple of days so carrying on was not possible.
Sir Robin spoke to race organisers RORC at 1830 BST yesterday to inform them of his retirement.
Skippers have been warned to take extra care to avoid running aground this summer, after breakdown and emergency recovery firm River Canal Rescue (RCR) reported an 800% rise in groundings.
The company normally responds to one grounding callout per month, but since the beginning of June that level has risen eight-fold to an average of two per week.
This rise has been put down to lower water levels caused by the unusually hot weather over the past two months. RCR adds that boats on the Thames, the Fens and “rivers in general” are particularly at risk.
Stephanie Horton, managing director of RCR, said: “The heat wave in June and July affected the water levels, creating a peak of call-outs at the end of July.
“To reduce the risk of grounding, keep to the deeper channels, do not cut corners and only travel where there is adequate water.”
Despite the recent heavy rainfall during Hurricane Bertha, Britain is on course for its eighth-warmest summer on record, with July seeing an average day-and-night temperature of 16.3C.
See article at Motorboats Monthly – click here
A man was rescued from the water after he fell out of his speedboat which then carried on circling around him.
The man had been on board his boat and acting as safety boat for the pedalos when he noticed that a child was being blown out to sea on a kayak. As he was making his way towards the child, he was flipped out of his boat and into the water.
Several personal water craft were in the vicinity and assisted the man including one which was able to get control of the boat and help the man back on board.
Portland Coastguard Watch Manager Cindy Rodaway said: “We are very relieved that everyone is safe and well and that there are no injuries resulting from this incident.”
“This incident highlights the importance of wearing a kill cord whilst in charge of a motorboat. The kill cord, is designed to kill your engine in the event of you going overboard.”
“All owners and drivers of open powerboats, personal watercraft and RIBs should ensure that if their boat is fitted with a kill switch and kill cord, it is correctly used”.
“On a powerboat the kill cord should be attached securely around the thigh and on a personal watercraft it should be attached to the buoyancy aid.”
Recent similar incident
The latest warning, comes just two weeks after Dover Coastguard issued a kill cord warning after two people were thrown from their boat which then started spinning dangerously around them, just off shore from St Leonards, East Sussex.
The Hastings Coastguard Rescue Team plus the Hastings inshore RNLI lifeboat attended and found that the pair had managed to swim back to shore but their RHIB was still circling in the water.
The crew of the lifeboat managed to bring it under control and cut off the engine.
Padstow boating tragedy
In May 2013, a family boating tragedy in Cornwall highlighted the importance of wearing a kill cord. The family of six – two adults and four children – were ejected from an 8m rigid hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) while manoeuvring the boat at speed on 5 May 2013, on the Camel Estuary, near Padstow.
A Marine Accident Investigation Branch report told how the unmanned RHIB subsequently executed a series of tight high-speed turns, running over members of the family in the water, causing the deaths of Nick Milligan, aged 51, and his eight-year-old daughter Emily.
Mr Milligan’s 39-year-old wife Victoria and their four-year-old son Kit both suffered ‘serious, potentially life-changing injuries’. The report said: ‘The RHIB was fitted with a kill cord, but this was not attached to the driver at the time of the accident.
Consequently, when the driver was ejected from the boat, the kill cord did not operate to stop the engine and the RHIB continued to circle out of control, and at speed.
As the RHIB circled, it ran over the family in the water a number of times, leading to the deaths and injuries.
A few minutes later a local boatman was able to board the RHIB and bring it under control before further people were hurt.
Yachting & Boating World: Six crew with just one lifejacket between them were rescued off the coast of Devon after their motorboat capsized.
The RNLI and local fishermen worked together to help the stricken crew, two adults and four teenagers, following the incident on Sunday. Exmouth lifeboat was called to the scene at around 1.15pm after a volunteer spotted the upturned boat in the sea.
Meanwhile, five of the crew were rescued by a nearby fishing boat and a sixth was picked up by a passing yacht and later transferred to the RNLI lifeboat. Once in Exmouth Marina, all six crew were checked over by paramedics and ambulance staff for cold water shock.
Brixham Coastguard’s Andy Huber warned that all boat users should wear lifejackets, saying: “It’s very serious, if you do not wear a lifejacket you have the chance of drowning.” An RNLI lifeguard aboard a personal watercraft stood by the drifting vessel, which was then towed part sunken, ashore to Rodney Bay by the inshore lifeboat.
One of Britain’s best young sailors, Jess Eales, has been found dead near a car park in woodland in the New Forest.
Jess Eales, who turned 17 on July 30th, was discovered near a car park at around 9.30am the next day. The promising sailor had recently represented Great Britain at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Portugal, finishing 11th against more than 365 competitors.
Meanwhile, in April, she won a gold medal at the RYA Youth National Championships in Weymouth and Portland.
RYA racing manager and performance director John Derbyshire told the Telegraph: “Jess was a very happy smiling girl and a part of our sailing community but that is only one of the aspects of her life, she also had her school, her family and friends.”
“This has been a complete shock to everyone who knew her, her family are just reeling and as a parent I don’t know how they are managing to deal with this.”
Meanwhile, RYA youth racing manager Mark Nicholls said: “The RYA is aware of the sad passing of British Youth Sailing Squad member Jessica Eales.”
“She was a young sailor who showed promising talent which can now unfortunately never be fulfilled. Our thoughts are with the family and friends at this sad and difficult time.”
The 17-year-old, who learned to sail in 2009, competed in the RS Feva XL class before progressing into the 29er skiff class. Police are not treating her death as suspicious and an inquest will be opened in due course.
The ‘fairly active’ summer storm is forecast to head for the UK over the next week. A Hurricane called Bertha, which is currently in the Caribbean, could head towards Europe over the next week, the Met Office has warned.
While all forecast models suggest the storm will head in the general direction of UK and continental Europe, there remains a lot of uncertainty about exactly what it will do.
One certainty is that as the storm heads north away from the very warm seas which drive its power, it will lose strength and become what’s known as an extra-tropical storm – so we won’t be seeing a ‘hurricane in Europe’, but there is a chance we could see a fairly active summer storm.
The development of hurricanes and extra tropical storms can present complexities for meteorologists, and Bertha is a good example of that.
The Met Office uses several world-leading forecast models as well as its own, and this gives an indication of how certain a forecast is. If all the models agree, there’s higher certainty, if they diverge, we know the atmosphere is finely balanced and there are several possible outcomes.
In the case of Bertha each of the models we use gives a very different picture of what the storm will do. This ranges from Bertha heading towards France as a weak feature which will completely miss the UK, to it arriving as a fairly active summer storm.
In terms of timing, there’s also a spread of possibilities – but it looks likely that the earliest Bertha would affect the UK would be on Sunday or into the start of next week.
As time progresses, different models normally come more in to line with each other and uncertainty decreases. The Met Office will be keeping an eye on how this situation develops over the next few days to give everyone in the UK the best advice on what Bertha is likely to do.
Given the time of year and the potential heavy rain, strong winds and large waves Bertha could bring if it does head to the UK, sailors are advised to stay up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings from the Met Office over the next few days.
See the forecast track for Bertha and other tropical storms on The Met Office StormTracker pages.
Baltimore Sailing Club members have celebrated the launch of their newly refurbished clubhouse. Designed by architect John McCarthy and built by local builder, Michael Joe Leonard, the new clubhouse’s enhanced include a new shower block and spaces for events, training, seminars and storage and improved dingy parking.
Re-built at a cost of €400,000, the club was supported by Cork County Council and West Cork Development Partnership, with match funding provided by the club and donations. Founded in 1952, Baltimore Sailing Club has more than 600 members, including several overseas members.
Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine & Defence attended the official opening on 20 July, along with hundreds of local and national sailors, visitors and the local community.
Minister Coveney said: “Baltimore is a very special place in West Cork, and the vibrancy is palpable from the moment one arrives here. There is an obvious high level of co-operation between the various groups in the village and its hinterland, culminating in the re-building of this impressive structure, offering outstanding facilities for locals and visitors.”
“The Government and its agencies including West Cork Development Partnership, and Cork County Council, are delighted to lend support to the project, in the knowledge that it is significantly improving marine infrastructure in Baltimore”.
“The Government has also supported the building of the new pier and service buildings in Baltimore, and I feel sure that, in the future, this harbour will see many new developments for the better in this wonderful part of west Cork.”
The inaugural Women on the Water (WOW) event on 12 August 12 in aid of Breakthrough Cancer Research (part of Cork Cancer Research Centre) will see craft of all shapes and sizes on the water, with onshore fun for all the family. The club will also participate in Bart’s Bash, one of the first clubs in Ireland to register for this massive world-wide charity event.
The clubhouse will also be used by local organisations such as the Baltimore Bridge Club, RNLI, local festival groups and defibrillator personnel, truly embracing all strands of society in the area. See website here www.baltimoresailingclub.com
Clipper sailor Ruth Harvey is suing Sir Robin Knox-Johnston over allegations of victimisation and harassment after paying £40,000 to compete in the annual race.
The 50-year-old, who is also an employment lawyer, is claiming she should be classed as an employee having been part of a crew. The employment specialist, who failed to complete the race, now wants a legal ruling that will delineate between paid participants and employees.
Two days have now been set-aside in November to decide whether Ms Harvey has a case, following a preliminary hearing at Southampton Employment Tribunal last month. Speaking to legal website RollOnFriday, Ms Harvey argued: “I was a worker for the provisions of the Employment Rights Act, as regards safety, and I was covered by Equality Act provisions ‘in any capacity’ on board, as regards harassment.
“Complex legal argument here involves both domestic and EU law and similar recent cases have gone as far as the Supreme Court.” Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, said: “While we can confirm we are currently in a tribunal process with Ms Harvey, it is our policy not to comment further upon ongoing legal matters.”
Ms Harvey set sail from St Katherine’s Dock in September last year having “begged and borrowed” to raise the funds necessary to take part in the once in a lifetime challenge.
A JustGiving page she created for the event has raised £745 of the £5,000 target for Cornwall Air Ambulance. Ms Harvey raced on board the 75ft yacht Jamaica Get All Right with 59 other crewmembers from a number of different nations.
Yachting & Boating World: A plucky RNLI volunteer started bailing out a sinking boat with a bucket until help arrived. A fishing vessel was rescued in Ilfracombe harbour on Saturday evening after it began sinking.
A commercial fishing vessel skipper first noticed that Obsession was not sitting correctly on its mooring at around 8.20pm and notified RNLI volunteer Ben Bengey who was aboard his fishing charter vessel.
Mr Bengey contacted his coxswain father to let him know that he may need assistance from the lifeboat before heading out to the vessel to discover it was taking on water.
The lifeboat operations manager was made away of the problem, who then sent out a launch page to all Ilfracombe RNLI volunteer crew. While waiting for others to arrive, Mr Bengey boarded Obsession and began bailing water with buckets.
An RNLI spokesperson said: “Ben immediately boarded the boat, lifting her engine hatch and beginning to attempt to bail her out using the buckets that were to hand.
“With the incoming tide bringing more and more water into the boat, he was fighting a losing battle as he waited for the lifeboat he knew would soon be on its way.”
Once the inshore lifeboat crew arrived, volunteers began using a salvage pump in order to get rid of enough water to allow the engines to start. From here, the fishing boat was taken off its mooring and moved to a beach mooring in the inner harbour.
When crews were finished using the salvage pump, owner Ian Langham was left to assess the damage.