A coastal community in north Mayo is celebrating this week the survival of two young local men after their trawler capsized when swamped by a freak wave in a heavy swell while they were hauling crab pots. John O'Donnell (18), from Porturlin, Ballina, and Nathan Flannery (25) from Rossport, Ballina, didn't even have time to send out an SOS as their vessel 'Léim an Bhradán' (Leap of the Salmon) began sinking. They took to a liferaft but to their horror the emergency craft initially failed to open.These two young fishermen are extremely lucky indeed according to the rescuers. During the 12 hours they spent adrift the men had fired a smoke signal when they spotted a helicopter. But the crew of that aircraft failed to spot their signal. Eventually they were spotted by the crew of Coast Guard helicopter. Thank God for the wonderful happy ending!
The young men, who were both wearing lifejackets, eventually managed to right the raft and climb into it.
They then spent nearly 12 uncomfortable hours bobbing about in the Atlantic, some 13 miles off the north Mayo coastline at Belderrig, before they were spotted by the crew of a Sligo based Coast Guard helicopter.
The helicopter crew directed the Ballyglass RNLI lifeboat to the scene and the young men taken ashore at Ballyglass to recover.
While not all reports had mentione freaque waves as the cause, as usual no more detail is available at any rate. This report by IrishTimes.com, for example, has this fair description but did not characterize the wave as freaque:
The pair were moving crab pots closer inshore when the incident occurred. Their vessel, Léim an Bhradáin, was in a heavy swell and the pair were hauling pots when a wave came across the stern.Now we have here may be some thing new: a freaque wave in heavy swell! I doubt anyone knows what exactly a freaque wave in heavy swell is. Swell usually can be expected to have regular patterns approaching or refracting toward the nearshore area. Clearly freaque waves can happen in the swells also.
The boat broached and capsized. The pair were thrown into the sea, with no time to reach their VHF radio to raise the alarm.
Fortunately, the vessel’s life-raft released and floated to the surface. However, although it began to inflate on contact with water, its straps were jammed. Mr O’Donnell found a car key in his pocket and managed to cut the straps, allowing the raft to fully inflate.
The pair clamboured aboard and tried to keep warm, estimating the time at about 1pm on Saturday. Weather conditions were southerly force two to three with moderate sea conditions, but this particular area of coastline is known for its heavy seas.
By the way this RTÉ News has video on location for the rescue.
Wouldn't it be nice if every encounter case can be solved and rescued successfully like this one!