Safety measures could have averted three drownings off Atlantic seaboard
Garda expresses concern about ‘less qualified’ volunteers joining rescues
The bodies of two fishermen being recovered at Seafield Pier, Quilty last year.
Marine casualty investigations have found that two incidents which claimed three lives off the Cork and Clare coastlines within a 24-hour period last summer could have been averted if basic safety measures had been taken.
The Garda Siochána has also expressed concern about “less qualified” people offering assistance in search and rescue which could have safety implications.
The two Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) reports published last night (thurs 27) involve the loss of an experienced dinghy sailor off the west Cork coast and two fishermen off Quilty, Co Clare on August 13th,2012.
Michael Galvin (64) and Noel Dickinson (35) drowned after their 10 metre fishing vessel, Lady Eileen (italics), sank on a tangle net trip off Quilty,Co Clare, while John O’Leary, a farmer and poet in his sixties, drowned after his four-metre Enterprise sailing dinghy capsized within sight of shore off Cod’s Head, Co Cork on the same day (aug 13 2012)
Mr O’Leary was sailing with his 18-year-old son Christopher, and both survived in the water for several hours before it appeared that the boat was sinking and both tried to swim 800 metres to shore.
When Mr O’Leary got into difficulties, he urged his son to swim on - which he did, raising the alarm.At this stage, both men had been almost four hours in the water.
The MCIB report says that the pair had not notified anyone on shore of expected return time, which could have helped in raising the alarm earlier. The Irish Coast Guard, in its response, has stressed the importance of maintaining a competent person ashore for every craft that goes to sea.
The report found that Enterprise dinghy had insufficient buoyancy to keep it afloat, which would have made it difficult for the crew to right it when it capsized.
The MCIB has recommended that a grab bag with some rockets and hand held flares should be carried by small dinghies when sailing in areas of low population of limited marine activity.
Neither of the two Clare fishermen were wearing lifejackets when their bodies were found after the Lady Eileen sank off the Clare coastline.
No alarm was raised and no emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) was activated, and the report has been unable to confirm conclusively why the boat sank.
The two bodies were recovered close to the vessel wheelhouse on August 14th by members of the Burren Rescue Team. However, a near miss occurred during the rescue when three people on board one of 16 boats searching for the Lady Eileen was swamped and capsizedoff Freagh point.
The three people on board this craft were wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs), but two of the three PFDs failed to inflate on contact with water. Fortunately, the three were picked up. The MCIB says it cannot confirm why the PFDs didn’t inflate as it did not have possession of them for the investigation.
The Garda Siochána has also expressed concern about a breach of an exclusion zone placed around the Lady Eileen after its sinking.
It had requested the exclusion zone as it was worried about the experience levels of those involved in the response.
“The co-ordination of search and rescue volunteers needs to be managed in order to avoid further incidents during search operations,”the Garda has said.