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Sunday 19 November 2017

Danish crewmen praise rescuers as yacht stricken in raging seas

Ralph Riegel and Brian McDonald

Two Danish yachtsmen last night paid tribute to the skill and courage of the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI volunteers who saved them despite horrendous conditions at sea.

John Olsen (69) and his friend, Victor Sander (72), told the Irish Independent, after being brought safely ashore at Castletownbere in west Cork, that they were hugely impressed by the skill of the Irish rescue officials who managed to get a mechanic on board their stricken yacht in raging seas.

"I was very impressed -- we were very glad of the help. It was very difficult for us at the time," Mr Olsen said.

The rescue was conducted by the Irish Coastguard and RNLI, despite the fact that sea conditions were exceptionally difficult early yesterday morning off the south-west coast.

The two Danes were bringing Mr Olsen's 13-metre Beneteau-designed yacht, Dana, from the Azores to Scotland for the annual meeting of the Danish Ocean Racing Club. Mr Olsen is a retired sea captain and, since May 2010, has been sailing around the Atlantic.

As they approached the Irish coast, the Dana ran into difficult sea conditions.

The engine on their yacht then failed -- and Mr Sander became extremely sick and was unable to work on board.

Mr Olsen was left struggling to man the stricken yacht on his own and decided to try to make Kinsale. Eventually, he had to alert the Irish Coastguard to his plight and both the Baltimore and Castletownbere RNLI lifeboats responded.

Ordeal

Yesterday, the two men were none the worse for their ordeal, and they enjoyed a shower and some hot soup and coffee in Castletownbere.

"It is very beautiful here -- and we are very grateful for all the help," Mr Olsen said.

After repairs to his boat, he hopes to be able to travel to Scotland within the week, before heading back to Copenhagen in late July.

Meanwhile, a boat trip in Galway Bay almost turned to disaster for two men when their speedboat began taking in water and sank.

The men had taken advantage of the calm weather on a sunny evening and were off the Salthill-Claddagh coast when their 15-foot pleasure craft began taking in water and was sinking fast between the Salthill shoreline and Mutton Island.

Both men were wearing lifejackets and one of them succeeded in contacting the emergency services by mobile phone.

The Irish Coastguard immediately alerted all vessels in the area and, within minutes, the Irish Lights ship, Grainne Uaile which was working locally, arrived at the scene, as did a fishing vessel, the Tranquillity. The speedboat had already sunk and the two men were in a distressed state in the water.

The Grainne Uaile immediately launched a small boat and the crew managed to get both men on board.

Both were taken to Galway University Hospital.

One of the Galway lifeboat crew, nurse Olivia Byrne, said that the lifejackets had undoubtedly saved the men's lives.

Irish Independent

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