Skipper swam to safety after trawler sank in Bantry Bay

April 19th, 2023 5:05 PM

By Emma Connolly

A report said the incident highlights the importance of wearing a PFD. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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THE skipper of trawler that started to sink after being swamped by a wave, jumped into the sea, kicked off his wellington boots and swam to shore. 

The Anna Louise sank while on a routine fishing trip to lift lobster pots in Bantry Bay. 

The skipper had lifted two strings of lobster pots onboard with a total of 10 pots and was retrieving the marker buoy when a wave came over the stern, flooding the boat. After raising the alarm he jumped overboard, his personal flotation device (PFD) inflated automatically, and he swam to the rocks on the shore. 

He sat on the rocks for a while to get his breath back and then made his way through rough terrain to the nearest house, which was empty. He proceeded to the next house and made a call to his brother to advise he was safe. 

The boat’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) had floated free and activated. 

The community lifeboat from Bantry was tasked to attend, as well as the Castletownbere lifeboat. Rescue Helicopter R115 was also sent from base to assist. However, a message was received that the casualty was safe and well and the rescue craft was stood down, and boat was later salvaged from 12m of water. 

A report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) described it as a ‘serious marine casualty’  that took place last July and said the boat sank quickly, as there was no reserve buoyancy when it was full of water. 

‘The boat freeboard had been reduced due to additional weights onboard, making it more vulnerable to swamping,’ it said. ‘Modifications had been carried out that reduced the freeboard and these modifications should have been presented, for approval, to the surveyor who had issued the code of practice certificate in accordance.’

It has now recommended that the Minister for Transport should issue a marine notice reminding owners of fishing vessels of the dangers associated with modifying vessels, including changes to a vessel’s engine, without proper evaluation of the consequences. 

The report also said it showed  the importance of wearing a PFD, especially when operating alone.

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