Number of RNLI rescue missions almost double following Covid-19 pandemic in the Isle of Man

Video report by Joshua Stokes

The RNLI has recorded a large increase in the number of times crews in the Isle of Man have had to launch a rescue mission.

Figures for 2021 revealed Manx lifeboat crews launched 48 times, up from 25 in 2020 - marking an increase of 92%.

Volunteer crews across the Island spent 384 hours at sea - an increase of 133% compared to the previous year.

The number of lives saved by RNLI crews from Peel and Douglas has also increased from zero to three in the last year.

RNLI Chairman for Peel, Stuart Blackley, said the increase in figures is 'due to Covid' and believes more people have been choosing staycations over vacations.

This has then led to more people spending time out at sea around the Island.

The busiest of the Manx lifeboat stations was Port St Mary with its crew launching 18 times - aiding 13 people and saving three lives.

One of those rescued was yacht skipper Billy Ferguson, who along with his two crew mates was rescued by Port St Mary RNLI in November 2021

This was after their yacht suffered a fouled rudder and propeller in high winds and rough seas.

Billy said: “We were so pleased to see the crew of Port St Mary approaching – it was a very serious situation.

He continued: "I am an experienced sailor and former RNLI crew member, but the sea is unpredictable and unexpected issues can still catch you out."

The Port St Mary RNLI crew rescuing people from a yacht in distress. Credit: RNLI

'Mayday Mile'

The charity is urging people to take part in the 'Mayday Mile' throughout the month of May, encouraging people to set their own challenge to walk, run, cycle or swim any distance to raise money for the RNLI.

One of the crew members taking part in the challenge is Simon Bushe who is hoping to complete 250 miles this month.

Another is James Smith who is Head Launcher in Peel.

He is hoping to complete 200 miles of cycling this month and raise £200 for the charity.

The 'Mayday Mile' will be running from Saturday 1 May to Tuesday 31 May.

Historic links to the Isle of Man

Sir William Hillary founded the RNLI in 1824 while living as a Manx resident in Douglas.

He witnessed many shipwrecks around the Manx coast and saved many lives in the Island with the help of other local residents.

Hillary decided that the danger of shipwreck and drowning was becoming too great, particular in the waters surrounding the Island.

Sir William Hillary lived in Douglas in the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks around the Manx coastline.

There are five different lifeboat stations positioned around the Island in Douglas, Ramsey, Peel, Port Erin and Port St Mary.

The charity celebrated its 197th anniversary on 4 March this year.