Water users urged to check weather forecasts after lake rescues
Two alerts on Lough Derg within 24 hours over weekend
Women take part in the “Dip In The Nip” fundraiser in aid of the Mercy University Hospital Foundation and cancer services at Pillmore beach in Youghal, Co Cork, yesterday. It was one of several similar events held over the weekend. Photograph: Diane Cusack
The RNLI lifeboat station on the river Shannon’s Lough Derg has urged water users to check local weather forecasts, following two alerts within 24 hours on the lake over the weekend.
A group of 70 oarsmen and women in coxed touring quad craft and a group of young kayakers were caught out in separate weather-related incidents on the lake, which is known as Ireland’s “inland sea” due to its size and sometimes-challenging nature.
The RNLI Lough Derg inshore lifeboat was involved in both alerts on Friday and Saturday, with Friday’s response being stepped up when one boat with five people on board was reported missing.
About 70 of some 101 participants in the FISA 2013 World Rowing Tour were hit by a squall while crossing the lake on Friday evening on the last leg of their week-long river Shannon tour from Carrick-on-Shannon to Limerick.
Four boats among a fleet of 18 turned back early, and the 14 that continued encountered difficulties at the narrowest and deepest part of the lake, Parker’s Point, where wind can have a funnelling effect whipping up pyramid-type waves.
All the rowers, who were from 17 countries across five continents, stayed with their boats. They were safely accounted for by gardaí in the response co-ordinated by Valentia Coast Guard. No one was hospitalised, although a small number were treated for hypothermia.
On Saturday, a group of 22 young kayakers aged between eight and 10 years was shepherded ashore by two safety boats at Whitegate, north of Killaoe, when they also encountered difficulties.
RNLI Lough Derg lifeboat helm Eleanor Hooker said that Lough Derg’s size was such that it could be particularly susceptible to changing weather conditions and low board craft would be more susceptible to wind increases than sailing craft – which relish a good breeze.
RNLI Lough Derg lifeboat coxswain Peter Clarke, who responded to Friday’s alert with crew Ger Egan and David Moore, advised boat users “to check the weather forecast before setting out, to let others know where you are going and when you anticipate arriving, to always wear a lifejacket and to carry some means of communication in case of difficulties”.
l More than 120 people, meanwhile, ignored lifeguard and Irish Coastguard advice yesterday to take part in the annual Dip in the Nip in Co Sligo.
There were high winds and a huge swell at Dunmoran Strand but with dippers coming from as far away as Mexico for the event, organiser Maire Garvey said it was simply impossible to cancel it.