Four lifeboat rescues in six days
The RNLI has renewed warnings to boat users after carrying out a fourth rescue operation on Lough Derg in less than a week.
The RNLI lifeboat based at Dromineer, Co Tipperary, has rescued a total of nine people since last Saturday. In three incidents, cruise boats had run aground because of poor navigation, technical issues or lack of preparedness.
In the latest incident, on Friday night, three people were reported overdue by their family, sparking a search and rescue operation. The alarm was raised at around 7.20pm when the three failed to return to Scarriff , Co Clare.
They had set out three hours earlier for Holy Island in Scarriff Bay, two rowing a wooden dinghy and a third in a kayak. They were thought to have been returning via Lough Derg's Scilly Islands, however. When there was no sign of them, and with conditions deteriorating, their family became concerned and alerted the Coast Guard.
The lifeboat launched at 7.30pm and raced to the scene on the opposite side of the lake. Winds were northerly and Force 3 at the time but visibility was poor, down to half mile.
The lifeboat circumnavigated the Scilly Islands and 22 minutes after launching, located all three people north of the islands.
All were wearing life jackets and in good spirits. The lifeboat accompanied the three back to shore, where they were reunited with their family.
Deputy Launching Authority Peter Kennedy issued a warning afterwards, the fourth in a week from Lough Derg RNLI.
"All boat users are urged to check weather conditions before setting out, and to carry with them a reliable means of communication with shore," he said.
Since last Saturday, the same volunteer lifeboat has responded to three other incidents of boat users in difficulty. In two cases, cruise boats ranging in length from 24ft to 32ft ran aground, while a third was left powerless and drifting near a bridge at Portumna. A total of six people were rescued.