Lough Derg RNLI assist 40 people on 40ft passenger vessel

Lifeboats News Release

On Saturday afternoon 18 March 2023, Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to assist forty people on a 40ft passenger vessel aground on a rocky shoal off Bonaveen Point on the County Galway shore, at the north-western end of Lough Derg.

View from the stern of the lifeboat over the heads of three crew and over the bow the casualty vessel is seen in the distance

RNLI/Eleanor Hooker

Lough Derg RNLI in rescue of 40 people - March 18 2023

At 1.20pm Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Doireann Kennedy and Oisín Higgins on board. Winds were northwesterly Force 4/5, gusting Force 6. Visibility was very good. Given the large number of people on board the casualty vessel, Valentia Coast Guard also requested Killaloe Coast Guard to launch.

At 1.35pm the lifeboat could see the casualty vessel aground off Bonaveen Point. Using local knowledge and electronic navigation tools on board the lifeboat, the RNLI volunteers navigated around two shallow shoals to make a safe approach to the stern of the casualty vessel. The lifeboat was in constant VHF contact with Valentia Coast Guard and the casualty vessel. The lifeboat asked if the casualty vessel was taking on any water and if there were any hazards visible in the water around the boat. The casualty vessel said they were not taking on any water and informed the RNLI crew that there was a significant hazard on their starboard side.

The lifeboat came alongside the port side of the casualty vessel. Volunteers established that all on board were safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets. By now the Killaloe Coast Guard was also on scene.

Given the number of casualties on board, the location and the weather conditions on the lake, the RNLI lifeboat helm made the decision to take the vessel off the shoal, and informed Valentia Coast Guard of this decision. The RNLI lifeboat asked if the Killaoe Coast Guard would come alongside the lifeboat’s port side and take some of the passengers off to lighten the casualty vessel. Members of the Killaloe Coast Guard mobile unit had travelled by road and would meet the casualties to drive them to their cars. Six passengers were transferred across to the Killaloe Coast Guard vessel.

An RNLI volunteer boarded the casualty vessel to set up a bridle and prepare the vessel for tow. The volunteer then returned to the lifeboat and crew set about positioning the lifeboat to take the vessel off the rocks so that the vessel would keep clear of the hazard on its starboard side.

With the casualty vessel off the rocky shoal, the lifeboat advised the casualty vessel to centre its rudder and make any adjustments necessary to follow directly behind the lifeboat; the casualty vessel had no apparent damage to its engine or props and was now able to make way under its own power. Once in safe water the lifeboat brought the casualty vessel alongside to release lines.

The Killaloe Coast Guard returned to the scene and with the Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat accompanied the casualty vessel to the safety of Castle Harbour at Portumna. At 3pm the casualty vessel was safely tied alongside in Castle Harbour. The lifeboat departed the scene and was back at Station at 3.35pm.

Peter Kennedy, Deputy Launching Authority at Lough Derg RNLI commended both ‘Lough Derg RNLI and Killaloe Coast Guard for their swift response and excellent teamwork in effecting a challenging rescue in testing conditions’.

Ends

Notes to editors

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Eleanor Hooker, Lough Derg RNLI volunteer helm and Lifeboat Press Officer on 0877535207 or [email protected] or Nuala McAloon, Regional Media Officer on 0876483547 [email protected] or Niamh Stephenson, Regional Media Manager on 0871254124 or [email protected]

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Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around Ireland and the UK. The RNLI operates 46 lifeboat stations in Ireland. The RNLI is independent of government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, the charity has saved over 142,700 lives.

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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