"It was awesome and humbling. We had 110 vessels on the water with over 500 people on the Lough. Not including the hundreds who lined the shore to view the event."
A flotilla in memory of Irish Coast Guard helicoper R116 crew attracted a 110-strong turnout of yachts and motorboats despite ‘shocking weather conditions with thunder and torrential rain’.
Organisers said it was an apt reminder that ‘SAR don’t wait for good weather to rescue us – they come when we need them’.
The event in Carlingford Lough in Ireland took place last Sunday, 30 July, in tribute to R116- the Coast Guard helicopter that crashed in March 2017 with the loss of four crew lives.
The day began with a dinghy race in Rostrevor Bay, Coast Guard and RNLI demonstrations, musical entertainment from The Silver Band and a lone piper who performed as the first boats travelled up the Lough.
The flotilla left Warrenpoint, and proceeded to Rostrevor Bay. A memorial service was held in the bay, with wreaths laid in memory of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, co-pilot Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith. Each boat then laid a red or white rose in the water as R116 flew past.
Boat owner and long-time PBO subscriber Sheila Fitzgerald, who is a first cousin of winchman Ciaran Smith, organised the event, which was the brainchild of Gerry Sloan and the Rostrevor Sailing Club, and involved HM Coast Guard, Irish Coast Guard, the RNLI from Clougherhead and Kilkeel, plus the Irish Navy.
The Irish Coast Guard have confirmed that there has been an incident involving one of its Search and Rescue (SAR)…
Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered from the scene yesterday and flown to Mayo University hospital Castlebar where sadly she was…
One hundred yachts and motorboats have signed up to take part in a tribute flotilla in memory of Irish Coast…
She said: : ‘This was a truly unique event as it was cross-border and cross-community. The Irish and UK services worked very closely together to support this, it has really drawn people together.’
‘It was awesome and humbling. We had 110 vessels on the water with over 500 people on the Lough. Not including the hundreds who lined the shore to view the event.
‘It went off exactly as the programme had laid out, but the fly-past was incredible. There was complete silence on the Lough and in Rostrevor as the chopper circled and then dipped the nose.
‘We had the most shocking weather conditions with thunder and torrential rain. But it was a reminder that SAR don’t wait for good weather to rescue us – they come when we need them.
‘The sun came out with the helicopter and my friend took of a single ray of sunshine that broke through at the time. When the families laid wreaths- a rainbow appeared in the sky. It was truly amazing.’