Monday, November 14, 2022

Two sailors, who were rescued after being stranded for three days at an Achill cliff-face when their yacht capsized, are recovering after the ordeal.

The pair were both hospitalised -and one was winched by helicopter near Dooega Head from the vessel and flown to hospital because of the isolated location.

The alarm was raised after his companion managed to scale the perilous cliffs and notify the Achill Island Coast Guard.

Both men, aged in their late-30s and early-40s, had been suffering from dehydration.

The 50-foot yacht capsized in dangerously high seas on Tuesday after its mast broke, however, no distress signal was issued by the pair from Spain and Colombia.

The vessel washed up on a very cut-off and remote cliff-face, a short distance from Dooega Head on the island’s south side.

Achill Island Coast Guard and the local RNLI attended the scene before the Rescue 118 helicopter airlifted the sailor in his early-40s to Mayo University Hospital.

He was still being treated at the facility on Monday.

It is understood the younger sailor, who scaled the cliff-face and alerted emergency services, told locals the pair had been attempting to travel to Ibiza from the Caribbean.

There were gale force winds and extremely hazardous conditions during the three-day period the stricken pair had been trapped on the cliff-face.

Customs and Excise officers, who were accompanied and assisted by Gardaí, carried out an examination of the capsized yacht and surrounding area on Saturday.

The officers found there was no navigational equipment or incriminating evidence on board, while neither of the men had a passport, identifying documentation or any food or water.

It is understood the sailors were spotted on the yacht in the Porcupine Basin six days ago by fishermen who tried to communicate with them, but they did not respond

Garda Superintendent Joe McKenna said both men were living in Spain and the Colombian national had been living in the country for a considerable period.

“They were a number of weeks out there and they were drifting for possibly a month.

“With the storms last week and with the storms the last month you could come in there at Achill, you could come in anywhere and you could get washed up and broken up and that’s it, you drown, no matter how good a swimmer you are.

“They kind of landed on a little beach and they were very lucky.”

Meanwhile, Achill Coast Guard thanked their colleagues in Rescue 118, Gardaí,  and Achill Island RNLI for their assistance.

Peter McManamon of Achill Coast Guard said: “They were at the back of Dooega Head for three days.

“One of them managed to climb up the cliffs and raise the alarm.

“The local guard [Martin O’Reilly] then contacted the RNLI and they got in contact with us because we thought we might have to climb down for the other lad.

“But conditions weren’t great, so we got the helicopter to come down, R118 and they airlifted him.

“Then on Saturday we were stood down and the customs and the guards took over.

“They were doing a salvage on it.

“Marine investigation guys came down and they took over from us.”


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