A major search and rescue operation was mounted this afternoon after a small boat with two people on board was reported to be in serious danger off the Co Clare coast.
The two fishermen are said to have had a lucky escape after their small boat was capsized by a wave before being tossed onto rocks. The men, believed to Polish, got into difficulty north of Doolin Point after their boat engine failed in rough seas.
At around 3.20pm, the harbour master’s office at Doolin raised the alarm after a crew member on board a local ferry reported a boat with two people on board in difficulty north of Doolin.
It’s also understood that concern for the fishermen’s safety had been expressed earlier in the afternoon when they were spotted fishing in rough seas. Conditions at the time were said to be ‘difficult’ with a westerly force 5 to 6 wind and a large swell reported in the area.
Watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry mounted a search and rescue operation at around 3.30pm. The Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard, Aran Islands RNLI lifeboat and the Shannon-based search and rescue helicopter were alerted and requested to respond to the scene.
Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 was on another mission in Limerick at the time and was able to respond to the incident promptly. Doolin Coast Guard launched their rescue boat while other volunteers made their way to the scene on foot.
In the meantime, the Irish Coast Guard issued a marine radio message advising any vessels in the area of the developing situation and requesting them to assist if they could.
It’s now believed that the engine on the boat had failed and that the fishermen were attempting to attach a smaller back-up engine with it fell overboard. As the boat drifted without power it got caught up in the surf it finally capsized throwing the two men overboard.
The fishermen were washed into the surf and carried ashore by the waves. Both were wearing life-jackers and managed to clamber up the rocks to safety. Soon afterwards their boat was tossed up onto the rocks where it broke up.
Rescue 115 located the men quickly and landed in a nearby field. The helicopter’s winchman/paramedic met and assessed the pair who were found to be badly shaken but otherwise uninjured.
The pair were brought back to the Coast Guard station in Doolin where they were cared for personnel. It’s understood that the men lost their personal belongings including their mobile phones during the drama. They are said to have had a ‘very lucky escape.’