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Capsized kayakers lucky to be alive


Anton McNulty

TWO kayakers who were rescued by a local fishing boat off Achill are ‘lucky to be alive’ after their cries for help were heard by a walker when they were an hour in the water.
The two men’ aged in their 20s’ had hired a kayak from Keem Bay beach in Achill on Sunday afternoon when they got into difficulty and ended up in the water off Moyteoge Head. When the alarm was eventually raised, the two men had been in the water for an hour before a local fishing boat picked them up and they were treated locally.
A spokesperson for the Achill Island Coast Guard explained that had their cries for help not been heard they would not have survived much longer in the water.
“They were fit lads both in their twenties but they were close to exhaustion and they would not have gone much longer in that water. Both had buoyancy-aid but only one was wearing a wetsuit and the other person was very cold,” the spokesperson said.
The alarm was raised shortly before 3pm on Sunday afternoon when a when a walker who was on the hill above Keem Bay heard cries of help. The area is remote and the walker could not see who was making the cries for help, but decided to call the emergency services.
The Achill lifeboat, Coast Guard, and Coast Guard helicopter were all tasked to the scene and a local fishing boat which was in the bay also went to the scene. The fishing boat located the two men and took them from the water before transferring them to the lifeboat.
The men were taken to Purteen Harbour and treated by a local doctor and despite being cold and close to exhaustion, it was decided they did not need to be hospitalised. It is unsure how the men ended up in the water but the area is where the tides meet and even on calm days can be very choppy.
The Achill Coast Guard have in the last number of weeks been tasked to false alarms and the Coast Guard spokesperson said Sunday’s incident showed why they encourage people to call the emegency services.
“We had a number of call-outs in the last number of weeks which proved to be false alarms but we never discourage people from calling us. This incident showed why it is important to call us if you believe someone was in danger. The person heard cries for help but could not see anything and thankfully made the call. If it was not for the presence of mind of the person to raise the alarm we would be doing with a tragedy and the loss of two lives,” he said.
Parking issue
Meanwhile, Achill Coast Guard have called on motorists to cease from parking in front of their headquarters as it is putting lives in danger. The headquarters is located across from the Parish church in Achill Sound and despite the presence of a yellow box and double yellow lines, motorists still park in from of the building.
A few hours before Sunday’s emergency, a mini bus was parked outside the station and the spokesperson said they will contact the gardaí if it happens again.
“People, for whatever reason, think it is okay to park in front of the station. If our entrance is blocked and there is an emergency we will get our tractor and tow it out of the way. If lives are at risk, we won’t be delicate and if the vehicle gets damaged we will deal with the consequences.”