THREE people had a miraculous escape after spending more than 30 minutes in the water when their yacht capsized and sank on Lough Derg last Saturday evening in hostile weather conditions.
Fortunately, people on board a passing yacht heard their cries for help and they were subsequently airlifted to the Mid-West Regional Hospital, Limerick suffering from hypothermia.
As the drama unfolded, two of the people in difficulty were rescued by the yacht crew, who alerted the rescue services and the third person was then located some 500m away by the Lough Derg RNLI team.
RNLI lifeboat helm, Colin Knight said that given the conditions, force 6 winds and 6ft swells, the three were lucky to have survived.
“These three people were very, very lucky. The passing yacht only became aware of their plight when, on tacking, one of sailors heard calls for help on the wind and raised the alarm,” he told The Clare Champion.
“The people were in the water for at least 30 minutes in fairly hostile conditions, when the only boat in the vicinity heard their calls for help. Someone was looking after them,” he added.
The Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat launched at 5.15pm with Helm Colin Knight, Johnny Hoare and Ger Egan on board and was on scene near Hare Island within five minutes.
When the lifeboat arrived at the scene, a passing yacht was rescuing two people from the water but had lost sight of the third person. The lifeboat immediately carried out a search pattern and located the third person some 500m away.
Tasked by Valentia Coast Guard, the Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard Search and Rescue helicopter team took off at 5.34pm, while the Killaloe Coast Guard had also launched to assist.
The three people were taken to the RNLI station at Dromineer where they were met by the helicopter and transferred to Limerick hospital for further treatment.
The lifeboat then returned to Hare Island to see if the sunken vessel was a navigational hazard, but there was no sign of wreckage or of the yacht.