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Watch: Five fishermen rescued after RNLI crews battle 50ft waves off Donegal coast

Five fishermen who got into difficulty off the Donegal coast at the weekend were brought to safet...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

21.16 16 Dec 2019


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Watch: Five fishermen rescued...

Watch: Five fishermen rescued after RNLI crews battle 50ft waves off Donegal coast

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

21.16 16 Dec 2019


Share this article


Five fishermen who got into difficulty off the Donegal coast at the weekend were brought to safety by RNLI rescue crews who spent almost 15 hours at sea.

The men were fishing for crab 20 miles north of Fanad Head when they got into difficulty on Saturday.

Their 45ft fishing boat lost power and encountered steering difficulties as violent waves broke the wheelhouse windows.

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Lough Swilly and Portrush RNLI were called to assist the men by Belfast Coastguard at 2.15pm after they received a Mayday alert.

It took the crew from Lough Swilly 90 minutes to make the 34-nautical mile journey to reach the fishermen, while Portrush RNLI had 50 nautical miles to travel.

The weather conditions were described as "extremely challenging" with the volunteers facing gales of force nine to ten and sea swells of 50ft.

Arranmore RNLI was also requested to launch shortly after 4pm.

When they reached the fishermen, volunteers from Lough Swilly RNLI found that they were "cold, tired and shaken from being rocked in the severity of the weather conditions but were otherwise in good health".

The conditions were so severe that the men were told to stay on their own vessel rather than attempt to transfer to the lifeboat.

Efforts were made to establish a tow line but this split three times due to the storm.

Arranmore RNLI’s lifeboat then took over the tow and brought the trawler back to  the mouth of Lough Swilly.

There, the tow was transferred to Lough Swilly’s lifeboat to allow Arranmore’s RNLI’s crew to make the three and half hour return trip back to their station in heavy seas.

Joe Joyce, Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘This was an extremely challenging call out for all the RNLI volunteers involved and we are delighted that the five fishermen were brought safely back to shore.

"Our lifeboats launched in challenging weather conditions on Saturday afternoon and our volunteers, 20 in all, spent almost 15 hours at sea, most of it in the hours of darkness.

"They faced gale force conditions and 50ft swells but with great courage, selflessness and teamwork they successfully met and overcame those challenges to bring the fishermen to safety.

"While challenging for our crews, this call out was a huge testament to the level of training RNLI volunteers undergo.

"Lifeboat crew members are highly trained and skilled to carry out such challenging work and thanks to the generosity of the public, we are provided with the best of equipment and technology to save lives at sea."

Main image: A screenshot from the footage released by the RNLI of the rescue. Photo: RNLI

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