Small boat found drifting in busy shipping channel

 

Two people had a narrow escape when their 6m (20 ft) open boat, which had no life-jackets or safety equipment aboard, drifted into the busy shipping channel in Dublin Bay on Saturday night.

The middle-aged Irish man and woman were saved by the DúLaoghaire lifeboat whose crew described the incident as a "close call" for the couple.

The couple had left either Ringsend or Dollymount and made an emergency call by mobile phone stating they were near the South Bull Wall at the Poolbeg towers.

However, nothing was found and the search was extended.

After 30 minutes the craft was found three miles out to sea at the Dublin Bay buoy where both inbound and departing commercial vessels converge.

"This incident was akin to having a picnic on the main runway at a busy airport," lifeboat spokesman David Branigan said.

RNLI lifeboat coxswain Ken Robertson said there were no life-jackets, flares, radio or any safety equipment on the open boat, which was actually breaking up in some places.

"With an offshore wind and strong ebb tide just before nightfall, this couple would certainly have been lost," Mr Robertson said. "Either they would have been swept out to sea and capsized or another vessel would have run them down in darkness.

"This was a close call for them though they seem not to have realised how serious the situation was."

The couple had contacted the rescue services by mobile phone. Mr Branigan said this was an unreliable means of communication in such situations.

"This point is where all the shipping converges and is like a shipping roundabout. There is the equivalent of an air traffic control system for that area."

There were seven crew on the lifeboat and three shore crew. The operation was co-ordinated by the Dublin Coast Guard.

Gardaí at Dún Laoghaire assisted the couple and medical treatment was not required.

Mr Branigan said more people were taking to the water for leisure purposes. The Dún Laoghaire station had received 47 calls so far this year. During the whole of last year, there were 46.

"We want people to enjoy the water and leisure pastimes but we want them to take the precautions and have all the safety equipment aboard," he said.

RNLI Seacheck runs checks on boats when requested and awards a certificate of safety.