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Newcastle and Portaferry RNLI assist lone sailor aground on rocks and rough seas

Lifeboats News Release

Newcastle RNLI volunteer crews were woken from their sleep to the sound of their pagers at 1.44am on Sunday 9 September by Belfast Coastguard to go to the aid off a lone sailor aground on Phennick Point at the entrance to Ardglass harbour.

Some 45 minutes later Newcastle RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat under the command of Coxswain William Chambers arrived on scene to find a yacht high on rocks and getting battered by 2-3 metre swells, the lone occupant had scrambled onto the rocks and was safe in a sheltered location. Coastguard teams on the shore reassured the person but couldn’t get to them due to a 20m gap.

At 3.40am Portaferry RNLI’s inshore lifeboat arrived on scene and decided it would have a better chance of recovering the sailor from the rocks. They waiting for a break in the waves and managed to get their Atlantic 85 in behind the rocks to safe water and put RNLI casualty care trained crew ashore to assess the sailor. All was found to be ok and he required no immediate medical attention. With the Helm positioning the lifeboat close to the rocks the sailor was recovered to the lifeboat and taken safely back to Ardglass marina to be met by the Newcastle Coastguard team and Northern Ireland Ambulance service.

At 9.18am, there was a launch request from Belfast Coastguard for the all-weather lifeboat to return to the stricken yacht to provide safety cover whilst some local boats tried to recover it off the rocks. On arrival, the crew found two local boats struggling with the tow. Taking the fact that there was now a person back on the yacht getting battered by the swell again, Coxswain Nathan Leneghan decided the safest and best thing was for Newcastle RNLI to take over the tow and pulled the yacht to safety and some 15 minutes later the yacht was freed from the rocks whilst just cosmetic damage from the waves. The yacht was then towed to the safety of Ardglass harbour and handed into care of Newcastle and Kilkeel Coastguard teams.


RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Nathan Leneghan, Newcastle RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07851264466, email Nathan_Leneghan or contact Nuala McAloon RNLI Press Officer Ireland on 00353876483547 or email or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Ireland on 00 353 87 1254 124 or

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland