By Martin Walsh
A MAJOR multi-agency air and sea, search and rescue exercise involving the Coast Guard Search and Rescue Helicopter from Waterford, Courtmacsherry RNLI, the navy’s LE George Bernard Shaw, the air corps, and the Seven Heads Coast Guard, will take place off Broadstrand in Courtmacsherry Bay on Sunday August 7th, from 1.45pm – subject to weather and rescue call-outs.
With a record-breaking number of call-outs last year (26), the Courtmacsherry RNLI has been tasked on 14 occasions so far this year. Its lifeboat operations manager Brian O’Dwyer said: ‘From a training perspective this an important exercise because it enables us to replicate situations that can arise at any time.’
The Courtmacsherry RNLI has also been assisted by the local Coast Guard cliff rescue unit on a number of the rescues. ‘This is also a great opportunity for the public to view the work of our search and rescue resources and Courtmacsherry Bay will provide an ideal viewing platform,’ said Brian.
The exercise will be co-ordinated by Valentia Coast Guard and the on-scene co-ordinator for the day will be the navy’s LE George Bernard Shaw. Viewing of the exercise will be possible from Courtmacsherry to Blindstrand along the coastal walkways and from the beach at Broadstrand, as well as from the Coolmaine-Harbour View coastline.
Early next year the Courtmacsherry RNLI will take delivery of their new lifeboat to replace the all-weather Frederick Storey Cockburn that’s been in service since 1995.
John Draper, divisional controller at Valentia Coast Guard said ‘the deployment by the Air Corps of a liferaft is an important capacity that we like to occasionally evaluate’.
The programme will also provide an opportunity to view the local Coast Guard team conducting a cliff rescue in Broadstrand. ‘They provide an important service in the area and have been involved in a number of high-profile incidents in recent times in situations where helicopter or lifeboat intervention was not possible,’ said John.
Meanwhile, on Saturday August 13th the Courtmacsherry RNLI, in conjunction with Barryroe GAA (as part of the Respect the Water campaign) will host the very popular Great Wild Atlantic Marathon Walk. Since its inception in 2018, the event has raised over €36,000 for the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat station. An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who will perform the official start at 9.30am from the Courtmacsherry Community Centre, has completed the entire 26.2 mile walk every year. Aside from the marathon, there are a several options for the walk from Courtmacsherry to South Ring and back – all incorporating the stunning and scenic Seven Heads peninsula.