A terrifying video recently released by the Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI) shows the crew from the Castletownbere Lifeboat Station in Co. Cork battling through 30-ft swells to rescue a 60-year old lone yachtsman who found himself in difficulty.
Accompanied by the Coast Guard helicopter in conditions described as “gusting Force 8/9 winds with a 30-ft swell” the lifeboat successfully rescued the yacht after a massive 12-hour rescue operation.
The yacht, with just one sailor aged in his 60s on board, had set sail from the Azores in early August but was dismasted in stormy conditions 45 miles south of Cork's Mizen Head. The sailor was believed to have been in constant contact with the Valentia Coastguard until Saturday morning when his VHF radio was washed overboard and the sailor activated an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) to identify his location, raise the alarm and seek help.
Once contacted by the Valentia Coastguard Radio, the Castletownbere lifeboat, the Annette Hutton, set off from their station at 8am Saturday, August 20, under the command of coxswain Brian O’Driscoll.
The man was located at 10:40 am, and the rescue crew battled through incredible stormy conditions to pull the yacht to safety. The sailor was brought aboard the lifeboat early in the ordeal as crew worried for his well-being. They finally returned to Cork at 8.30pm that evening towing the yacht into the station.
The man has since thanked the lifeboat crew for “saving his life,” stating that “only for the lifeboat, things would have ended up very badly today.”
“The coxswain and crew are to be complimented on the rescue – they demonstrated skill, seamanship and endurance during what was a long and challenging day,” said Castletownbere lifeboat operations manager Tony O’Sullivan.
The RNLI operates in Ireland and Britain and depends on donations from the public. The RNLI saves up to 22 people per day and provides a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service and a seasonal lifeguard service. They saved a total of 442 lives in 2015.