Back to back Callouts 04/05/2013

Skerries RNLI Assist yacht with engine failure and broken rigging


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Skerries RNLI responded to two yachts in difficulty in two separate incidents one immediately after the other this afternoon (Saturday 4 May).

The lifeboat station’s volunteer crew was requested to launch to assist a 30ft yacht with two people on board that had become entangled on a lobster pot near Lambay island. Direct communications with the stricken yacht could not be established, however, another yacht had spotted the vessel in distress and was able to relay GPS co-ordinates to Dublin Coast Guard over their VHF radio, standing by them until the lifeboat could get there.

The lifeboat crew was able to enter these coordinates into their GPS as they were launching. This meant that they could proceed directly to the casualty as soon as they had navigated around the headland and past the Skerries islands.

Once on scene a member of crew was put on board the vessel to assess the situation and ensure everyone on board was ok. It was soon established that the tide was keeping the yacht firmly trapped against the line it was caught on. A tow was established to the stern of the yacht, the crew member on board was then able to free the obstruction and as the life boat pulled the boat back against the tide.

The vessel was then taken under tow to safer water where they could assess if there was any damage to the propeller. There did not appear to be damage and they were happy to proceed to their destination under their own power.

As the volunteer crew was preparing to head back to station, a call came in from Dublin Coast Guard, advising that there was a 32ft yacht, again with two people on board sailing towards Skerries from the Laytown area with both rigging and engine problems, and requested that the lifeboat escort the yacht back to Skerries harbour. Once again GPS co-ordinates were provided, enabling the lifeboat to very quickly locate the yacht. Once on scene, the lifeboat stood by as the yacht made its way under sail towards Skerries.

As the yacht approached Skerries, it was established that the engine was not running well and could not be relied on, so a crew member was put on board to set up a tow. However, one of the sails was jammed and could neither be taken down nor stowed away and as the conditions deteriorated, the rigging for the sail broke free and it began to trash quite badly against the rest of the rigging for the mast.

A second crew member was put on board to assist in getting the sail under control. A tow was then established and the lifeboat began to head in to the lee of the shore before proceeding to the harbour. However, shortly after the tow began, the rigging tore it’s fittings from the deck and once again began trashing against the rest of the rigging. With the very real danger of the boat being dismasted, it was decided to head directly to the shelter of the harbour as quickly as possible.

Once in the harbour, a number of crew were on shore to assist in bringing the vessel alongside. One crew member then donned a safety harness before being winched up the mast to disconnect the rigging for the sail and drop it to the deck.

Afterwards, Gerry Canning, Skerries RNLI volunteer crew member said: ‘Both calls presented their own challenges, but the second call in particular highlighted the importance of our protective gear. Once the rigging tore free of the deck it became a very dangerous environment. Our gloves, steel toed wellies, padding in our lifejackets and in particular our helmets were absolutely essential’.