Irish Sea Training – Not Quite to Plan

A Blistering Start

George and Russ’s training exercise on the Irish Sea didn’t quite go according to plan; but I guess the whole concept of a disciplined drill is to help practice and perfect their skills at sea, right?

Starting out from Conwy in North Wales on Saturday afternoon, the boys spent the first 24 hours heading towards the Isle of Man. However, once the forecasted northerly winds picked up, alongside the movement of the tide, rowing soon became difficult.

With slow progress, the window to shelter from the deteriorating weather conditions was missed and when the wind increased to force 6 and near gale conditions, it was deemed necessary to deploy the para-anchor, together with an informed view to ‘sit it out’. 

As the boat was comfortably riding the 2-2.5m high waves, it was a matter of having to wait 36 hours for the wind to drop and change direction before they could consider safely rowing again. 

A few blisters from rowing hard

Alerting the Coastguard

Image courtesy of HM Coastguard

Due to being confined to the small cabin, Russ succumbed to sea sickness but was determined to carry on with their mission.

Whilst plotting the course to understand where the boat could potentially drift to, George identified a cargo/tanker ship anchorage area with some pretty big vessels around; consequently, they made the Holyhead Coastguard aware of their position and between them, agreed to monitor the situation hourly.

The coastguard was comforted knowing the boat was fitted with the appropriate safety equipment, and that George and Russ had taken the correct action to secure their safety at sea.

RNLI Moelfre Lifeboat

Communication with the coast guard continued and the weather forecast showed little change in conditions. This gave George and Russ three options to consider – 1) Continue to sit it out and notify nearby ships of their location, 2) Retrieve the para-anchor and row with the wind to head to the South of Anglesey, which offered an area sheltered from the wind or 3) Take the opportunity of a tow back to the harbour as offered by the coastguard.

Considering the advantages and obstacles of each option (and putting their safely first which must always be the priority), the boys accepted the kind offer of a tow to the shelter of Amlwch harbour in North Wales. The RNLI Moelfre lifeboat was deployed to provide the tow and thankfully the boys are now safely back ashore in Amlwch.

The RNLI’s report of this ‘shout’ can be found here.

Image courtesy of Phil H Williams, RNLI Moelfre Lifeboat LPO

Useful Experience

At the time of writing, George and Russ are heading to the lifeboat station to personally thank the RNLI for their help, professionalism and generous assistance.  

And whilst Team Oar Blimey were unable to complete their training exercise, a wealth of experience and insight has been gained, providing them both with a better understanding of, and respect of the sea.

Partner with us, sponsor us or simply donate – every bit of your help and support is extremely welcome and will help Oar Blimey complete the Atlantic Challenge and raise funds to help people live with dementia. 

Special Thanks and Recognition

The team are indebted to the incredible work the Coastguard and volunteers of the RNLI do so tirelessly. No matter how serious a situation is, these dedicated volunteers each put their own lives at risk to save others at sea and for that, we are so grateful to them, and to their families.