Six men were rescued from the Shannon this week by the crew of the Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat after their fibreglass cruiser hit what is believed to be a submerged fence post.
The lifeboat was launched from Coosan Point just after midday on Tuesday May 28 to attend the stricken vessel which was taking in water about 10m from the shore just off Big Meadow, to the south of Athlone.
When the lifeboat arrived on the scene they moved quickly to take the six men, believed to be in their 20s, off the sinking cruiser.
The lifeboat crew took the first three men off the vessel and brought them the short distance to Athlone before returning to take the remaining three off the vessel.
With all six safely ashore the crew returned to the scene and observed that the vessel was submerged with only the bow visible out of the water.
They alerted the Coast Guard and Waterways Ireland to issue a warning to other marine traffic in the area before returning to the lifeboat station.
“I am relieved that all six people on board the cruiser were recovered safely as the water was coming in quickly. All the men remained calm and listened to the instruction of the lifeboat crew, which resulted in a safe and speedy evacuation with nobody injured,” said Lough Ree RNLI operations manager Damien Delaney.
He also paid tribute to another boat with a crew of Belgian holidaymakers, who stood by to offer any assistance were it required, and said: “Fair play to them”.
The Advertiser asked Coxswain Delaney if he could confirm whether the sunken boat was outside the river markers, and had hit a submerged fence post.
“That’s for others to investigate. We’ve passed it on to Waterways Ireland. Our job is just to get them off, which we did. We no sooner had them off than the boat sank,” he said.
The Lough Ree RNLI boat has been operational since June 28, 2012 and is expected to become a permanent safety fixture on the lake and river after serving its 12-month probation in line with RNLI policy.
“A permanent decision has not yet been made, but the vibes are good,” confirmed Mr Delaney.
His vessel has answered eight call-outs since January, six of which have been in May alone.