A Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat assisted a lone skipper on the south-western Clare shore of Lough Derg yesterday.
At 7.46pm, Sunday April 17, Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to launch to assist a lone skipper on 30ft cruiser aground, inside Red Island on the south-western County Clare shore. The wind was south-southwest, Force 3/4. Visibility was good initially but dropped at 8.36pm with the sunset.
At 8.03pm Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker, Owen Cavanagh, Joe O’Donoghue and Ciara Moylan on board. At 8.18pm the lifeboat had the casualty vessel in sight; it was located inside Red Island, north of Holy Island. Aware of an extended shoal inside Red Island, an RNLI volunteer took soundings off the bow and, using on board electronic navigation, crew plotted a safe course to the casualty vessel.
At 8.21pm RNLI crew noted that the skipper on the casualty vessel was signaling with a light, waving and calling to them. Unable to make out what he was saying, the lifeboat asked Valentia Coast Guard for the skipper’s mobile phone number and called him. An RNLI volunteer reassured the skipper that the lifeboat was coming to assist and though it appeared the lifeboat was taking a course away from him, the lifeboat was in fact following a safe route in order to turn to his location without risk of grounding.
At 8.30pm the lifeboat was alongside the casualty vessel. The skipper was safe and unharmed and wearing his lifejacket. As it was a cold night, lifeboat crew advised the skipper put on additional warm clothing. An RNLI volunteer checked that the vessel was not holed and also made a check for any visual hazards bow and stern of the boat. Given the drop in temperature with nightfall and the secluded location, the helm made the decision to take the vessel off the rocks and out into safe water.
At 8.50pm the lifeboat had the vessel off the shoal and out in safe water. With an RNLI volunteer remaining on the board, the skipper checked forward and astern drives and steering and once satisfied they were in good working order, the casualty made way under its own power to Mountshannon Harbour, with the lifeboat leading.
At 9.20pm, as the casualty vessel entered Mountshannon Bay, the RNLI volunteer on board hailed the lifeboat to inform crew that the engine on the casualty vessel was overheating. The lifeboat immediately came alongside to assess the situation. The skipper switched to a backup engine and turned off his main engine and continued to Mountshannon Harbour with the lifeboat leading the way. At 9.31pm the casualty vessel was safely tied alongside in Mountshannon Harbour.
The lifeboat departed the scene and was back at Station at 10pm and at 10.35pm the lifeboat was washed down and refuelled.
Christine O’Malley, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users ‘if you are alone on the water, tell someone your plans and what time you expect to arrive at your destination. Remember to carry up to date charts of the lake and do not venture off the main navigation channels’.