US yachtsman says RNLI saved him from ‘potentially tragic’ situation

Locals in Inis Mór minding John Lubimir after mast on boat ‘Patriot’ snapped at sea

John Lubimir on his boat ‘Patriot’ on Inis Mór, Co Galway on Tuesday.

John Lubimir on his boat ‘Patriot’ on Inis Mór, Co Galway on Tuesday.


A US yachtsman who had crossed the Atlantic and circumnavigated Ireland before his mast broke into pieces has said he could have found himself in a tragic situation but for the help of a lifeboat crew.

“Were it not for the RNLI, a very serious situation could have become a potentially tragic one,” John Lubimir said, thanking the Aran island lifeboat crew.

Mr Lubimir and his wife, Christine, were under sail on board their 17.5m yacht Patriot some 17 nautical miles south-west of Gregory Sound when the carbon fibre mast snapped last week.

“We were sailing from Dingle, Co Kerry to the Aran island of Inis Mór in moderate seas with a 12-14 knot south-westerly wind when it happened,” the retired Florida businessman said.

“This yacht had just crossed the Atlantic from Florida to Baltimore,Cork, and we had finished second in our class in the Round Ireland yacht race.

“I have done over 12,000 nautical miles on this boat and over 80,000 miles offshore in all...The mast was only 18 months old and I had a brand new set of sails, all of which we had to jettison.”

An image of the damaged boat ‘Patriot’ off Inis Mór, Co Galway. Photograph: John Lubimir.
An image of the damaged boat ‘Patriot’ off Inis Mór, Co Galway. Photograph: John Lubimir.


Part of the mast gouged a hole in the top cabin as it toppled, and another piece began banging against the yacht and was at risk of puncturing the hull.

“I made a radio transmission to the Irish Coast Guard, and the RNLI Aran lifeboat came to our assistance, and without the crew I would not have been able to cut the mast and sails free and save the boat,”he said.

Two of the RNLI crew remained on board as the yacht was escorted into Inis Mór by the voluntary crew with coxswain John O’Donnell.

The Aran island lifeboat is having a particularly busy season, with 45 call-outs to date and five within the last seven days, according to Mr O’Donnell. Several of the most recent alerts have been medical evacuations from the Aran islands.

Mr Lubimir’s wife has flown back to the US while he sorts out insurance, and he says he has been spoilt rotten on Inis Mór with offers of blueberry pancakes, fresh brown bread and even people willing to do his laundry.

Inis Mór has become his second home as he awaits clearance from his insurers to take the yacht to Cork, and then to Britain for repairs.

He has, in return, been giving tours of the Chuck Paine-designed Able Apogée 58 yacht, with its flush deck pilot house and its beautifully finished interior.

“I can’t say enough about how great the RNLI is, and mariners and islanders are lucky to have such a dedicated group,”he says.

He and his wife intend to return to Inis Mór next year - by sail, he said.