An RNLI rescue team came to the aid of five people on board a large yacht on Lough Derg late last night.
At 11.10pm Valentia Coast Guard was alerted to the situation and requested Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to launch and assist the 48ft cruiser which was anchored just off red marker 1168 at the Benjamin Rocks, on the lake’s Co. Clare shore.
The lifeboat Jean Spier was launched with helm Ger Egan and his crew Steve Smyth, Joe O’Donoghue and Doireann Kennedy on board.
According to the RNLI, the lake was very rough as it was being battered by force six south-westerly winds and severe gusts.
Given the conditions, visibility was low and the rescue crew was aided by searchlights, radar and other lifeboat electronic aids.
At 11.24pm the RNLI team had the 48ft vessel in sight and all five passengers were found to be safe, unharmed and wearing their lifejackets.
The skipper of the vessel told the RNLI volunteers that the strong winds kept them from making headway, and so at 5.30pm with strengthening winds and failing light, they felt they would not make harbour and decided to drop anchor and wait out the storm.
However due to the cruiser’s location on the lake, it was subjected to the full force of the wind which caused the anchor to drag, taking the vessel close to the rocky shoal.
The lifeboat team transferred an RNLI volunteer onto the casualty vessel to assess the situation.
The rescue service said given the worsening conditions, lifeboat helm Ger Egan instructed the RNLI volunteer on board the pleasure vessel to cut the anchor line.
However, because the anchor warp was made of metal chain and shackled to the cruiser, the RNLI volunteer was unable to do so.
The RNLI said that with significant “effort” the volunteer weighed anchor and the lifeboat guided the vessel to the shelter and calm of the public harbour at Dromineer.
By 1.30am the 48ft vessel was safely secured alongside at Dromineer Harbour, the RNLI lifeboat had departed the scene and it was washed down and refuelled.
Lifeboat Operations Manager at Lough Derg RNLI Liam Maloney has advised water users who are unfamiliar with Lough Derg to “check the weather for the lakes and plan your course to arrive at safe harbour before nightfall.”