Fisherman was doing favour for friend as both were lost at sea
Published 05/04/2011 | 05:00
Patrick Hughes, who raised the alarm over his missing friends, looks out to sea through binoculars.
Above, search crews prepare to set out to sea again.
Mark condren and COLIN KEEGAN/COLLINS
ONE of the two fisherman lost at sea over the weekend went out on the boat as a favour to his friend, it has emerged.
A fourth day of searching failed to locate Ronan Browne (26) and David Gilsenan (41) yesterday. They went missing after leaving Skerries Harbour, Co Dublin on Friday morning.
Navy divers joined the search for the men last evening, assisting the coastguard, gardai, a search helicopter and civilian volunteers in a trawl spanning 200 miles of land and sea.
Local fisherman Patrick Hughes was the last person to see the two fishermen alive and raised the alarm when they failed to return.
He revealed that Mr Browne had been out retrieving lobster pots in the early hours of the morning, before returning to get Mr Gilsenan's help in bringing them in.
"David said he'd give him a hand because he needed a favour on another job, you know, a favour for a favour, we're all in it together out here," Mr Hughes told the Irish Independent.
He said both men were wearing life jackets and set off together at around 10.45am on Friday to pick up the pots.
"It would be strange for Ronan to be out that late, he'd usually be in by 10am, after fishing from around 5am," Mr Hughes, a friend of the two men, added.
He raised the alarm just before 6pm because of the strong wind and the fact that the two had yet to return.
Mr Hughes said he was familiar with the 17ft opentop fishing boat owned by Mr Browne, who had spent two months doing it up before naming it 'Lady Linda' after the woman he married last year.
"The boat, the fishing gear, everything was in perfect order," he said.
"It was just a tragic accident; most fishermen would know what is likely to have happened.
"The lines would have been off the side of the boat to pull in the pots, if there was a strong wind, it would pick up the sea under the port side of the boat and flip it over," he said.
Mr Gilsenan, a father of two from Rush, and Mr Browne were experienced fishermen and both were also marine engineers.
Their wives, Linda and Suzanne, remained at Skerries Harbour yesterday, amid increasing fears that the men have drowned.
Mr Browne married Linda just six months ago in October. He had previously survived a serious car crash.
Rescue teams again searched from Greenore, Co Louth to Ireland's Eye yesterday but found nothing of significance.
The boat was found on Saturday, five miles off Clogherhead.
An item of clothing from one of the men and lobster pots from the boat were later found off Colt Island, 12 miles south of where it was found.
Oilskins and boots, understood to have been owned by one of them, were found on Sunday. The search is due to continue this morning.