Courtmacsherry RNLI responds as surfers reported to be in difficulty
Courtmacsherry RNLI volunteers were called out yesterday evening (Sunday 10 April) at 7.50pm, by Valentia Coast Guard when people on the shore noticed that two surfers appeared in difficulties off Dunworley Strand on the Seven Heads coastline in West Cork.
A life raft was spotted in the immediate area at the same time.
Within minutes of the crew pagers being activated, the all-weather lifeboat Frederick Storey Cockburn, under Coxswain Mark Gannon and a crew of seven was launched and headed at speed to the scene of the alert arriving there at 8.20pm.
The conditions at sea were rough with a strong south easterly wind and high swells. It was clear that this could have the potential to be a serious incident and the Coast Guard Unit from the Seven Heads / Old Head of Kinsale, the Coast Guard Rescue 115 Helicopter from Shannon along with Gardai and HSE Ambulance Service were also immediately tasked.
The two surfers were able to get ashore themselves after being caught in tough swells and surf off Cow Rock and the concentration from all of the rescue agencies then focused on locating the life raft.
Following a detailed shoreline search, the Coast Guard land unit spotted the life raft on a rocky cliff-face, while the lifeboat and helicopter searched the bay with their powerful search lights and heat sensing equipment.
While nobody was found in the life raft, the search continued until the Rescue Co-Ordination Centre established that the life raft was one that was lost from a yacht at sea a few days ago off the Cork coast. All the rescue agencies were then stood down and the life raft was secured to be taken from the shoreline today (Monday). The two surfers who got ashore were uninjured and made their way home.
Courtmacsherry RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Brian O'Dwyer said: 'It was great to see the quick reaction from all our volunteers tonight, who dropped whatever they were at and rushed to the station in order to have the lifeboat underway in less than 10 minutes, to help others in distress. 'The people on the shoreline deserve great praise for alerting the rescue agencies quickly, as two different incidents in the same location at the same time was highly unusual.'
The Courtmacsherry lifeboat crew at sea and on shore were Coxswain Mark Gannon, Mechanic Dave Philips and crew members Ken Cashman, Peter Noonan, Ciaran Hurley, Dean Hennessy, Evin O Sullivan, Conor Tyndall and Conor Dullea.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
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