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Ignorance of sea conditions blamed for Achill sea rescues

Ignorance of sea conditions blamed for sea mishaps

Anton McNulty

Ignorance and the lack of understanding of the dangers of the sea are the main reasons for the emergency services being called out during the summer months according to the RNLI’s Sea Safety Officer.
Over the last number of weeks both the Coast Guard and the RNLI have reiterated their message to the public to urge safety and awareness when out on the sea particularly after three high profile rescues in the Achill area.
In one of these incidents, three people were rescued when their boat drifted towards the rocks near the Atlantic Drive after suffering engine failure, while in another case two foreign nationals were rescued after their rubber dingy was blown towards the Minaun cliffs.
In advance of the busy August Bank Holiday weekend, Noel Conlon, the Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer, urged people who are going on the water to make themselves aware of all the safety requirements. He said that the majority of callouts during the summer months involved people who are not aware of the dangers of the sea.
“The majority of people do take care when going out on the sea but there are people who are not aware of the dangers of the sea. Ignorance may be a strong word but a lot would not understand the tides and the wind and not wear the proper clothing which could result in hypothermia.
“They take out a boat without heeding the water conditions and without checking the equipment on the boat which could be substandard. The day may look good and the sun may be shining but the water will still be cold and the conditions can change very quickly. People must be prepared before they go out to sea,” he told The Mayo News.
Noel said one of the biggest concerns for the rescue services was that people can buy a boat without any experience and nobody can stop them from going out in the water. He said some boats were going out on to sea which were not suitable for lakes and urged local people who may be concerned to advise visitors against going out to sea.
“We [RNLI] have to take the nicely nice approach when dealing with people who we may be concerned about. Nobody can say you cannot go out to sea so we would introduce ourselves and have a quick chat about the boat or the need to wear a lifejacket. I would urge people to talk to local fishermen and ask them about the tide and if there is an off-shore breeze before going out.”
Noel said that before going on the water, everyone should wear a lifejacket, ensure their engine is in good working order, wear the proper clothing and make sure people know where they are going. Anybody who wishes to know more about Sea Safety can contact Noel on 086 8143207.