The lives of Clare coastguard volunteers are being put at risk by individuals entering the water during stormy conditions and using inadequate equipment.
An elderly fisherman was rescued attempting to row through six metre high waves under the Cliffs of Moher last week when the engine of his two metre long rubber dingy failed.
The man, who is in late 60s and originally from Eastern Europe, was interviewed by gardaí after the rescue and warned that his boat will be confiscated if he is involved in another similar incident.
The Clare People understands that the man has been the subject of a number of calls to local rescue services in recent years.
Mattie Shannon of the Doolin Unit of the Irish Coastguard says he would not have risked launching the unit’s own nine metre long Delta SuperX RIB had the coastguard helicopter not been present to provide back-up and to light the way.
“Everyone needs to know the limitations of their own equipment and take responsibility for their own safety – otherwise they are putting the safety of the rescue services at risk,” he told The Clare People.
“The is the open Atlantic, there was a big, deep water swell that day [last Wednesday], with five and six meter swells in Doolin.
“We would not have launched that day had the helicopter not been there to assist us. That man would have been in the sea on his own. There is no way we could have put a boat in the sea with the conditions that were in it.
“Everyone has their limitations, our boat has its limitations. Our priority has to be for the safety of our members. Our hierarchy of safety is firstly for the volunteer [coastguard member] themselves, then the crew, then the equipment which is the boat, then bystanders and the sixth priority is the casualty. They are a long way down the line so they need to understand that.
“The helicopter did a great job that night in finding the man and then staying around to light our way.”
The alarm was raised by local surfers at around 4.30pm last Wednesday. Because of high seas and approaching darkness, the Doolin Unit called in the Coastguard Helicopter from Valentia who located the man three kilometres outside of Doolin and supported them provided lighting and support of the Doolin Unit to launch their rescue boat.
“People have called us on several occasions about a fisherman going out [to sea], we had a report one day of a fisherman going out in fog when you couldn’t see anything. How he came back in, I don’t know,” continued Mr Shannon.
“The Gardaí spoke to him and impressed on him that he should not be going out in these conditions or in such a sized boat. The boat will be confiscated if this keeps going on.”
Meanwhile, the body of a man was recovered from the ocean near Dunlicky Castle near Kilkee on Saturday. The man, a Hungarian national living in Oranmore area, was taking a photograph when he was swept into the sea.
According to James Lucy of the Kilkee Unit of the Irish Coastguard, the Irish Coastguard Helicopter was called to the scene and located the man within minutes of arriving. They airlifted the casualty directly to Limerick Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Photo: Mattie Shannon of the Doolin Unit of the Irish Coastguard

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.