'Floating killers' - Water safety warning after three people are blown out to sea on inflatable dinghy

Rescue operation off Cork coast was one of three water safety incidents yesterday

'Floating killers' - Water safety warning after three people are blown out to sea on inflatable dinghy

Image: Crosshaven RNLI

The Irish Water Safety has urged members of the public not to use inflatable dinghies in the sea, citing the high risk of being swept out.  

The warning comes after rescue services were called to help three people who blew out to sea on a supermarket-type dinghy off the coast of Cork yesterday afternoon.

A lifeboat made it to Ringabella Bay just after 3pm before the crew noticed that the inflatable boat had safely made it ashore.

Its occupants were wearing swim gear, but only one had a wetsuit and buoyancy aid, according to the RNLI.

Speaking to Newstalk.com, John Leech of Irish Water Safety described inflatable dinghies as “floating killers”.

The boats are much more dangerous in Irish waters because of stronger tides, he said.

“They might be suitable for the Baltic sea, but not for the Irish climate, because of our strong tidal currents.”

Mr Leech also reminded members of the public to ensure they have a means of communication while out in open water.

“Handheld radios and phones should be kept in waterproof containers so an alarm can be raised if you get into trouble,” he said.

Patsy Fegan of Crosshaven RNLI said: "Inflatables and lilos should only be used in the confines of a swimming pool.

“Luckily these people came to no harm, but with a force five wind, they could have drifted well offshore."

Kayakers

In a separate incident yesterday, three people had to be rescued after a jet ski and small pleasure boat overturned off the Seven Heads coastline in west Cork.

The men fell into the sea and were blown onto rocks in strong winds.

The Courtmacsherry RNLI lifeboat and a rescue helicopter were called out shortly after 5pm to help them.

In a third rescue operation, eight kayakers were towed back to shore by lifeguards after getting into difficulty at Red Rock in Sutton, Dublin.

Another four were found by the Dollymount rescue boat on rocks. One was taken aboard and another three managed to  climb back up to the cliff path.

Rescue teams were faced with challenging weather conditions, with offshore winds and the dropping tide pushing the kayakers further out into Dublin Bay.

The Irish Coast Guard said most of the kayakers were novices on board a commercially-organised kayaking trip.

While all were wearing life jackets and wetsuits, the group had “very limited” safety equipment, it said.