THREE young men had a lucky escape on a Sunday evening when their small boat began sinking on a pleasure trip from Ballywalter to Donaghadee.
The Coastguard was alerted to the emergency by one of the boat’s crew members using his mobile phone. He was unsure of his position but reported that the party was somewhere between the Copeland Islands, Bangor and Donaghadee.
Heading in the direction of Belfast Lough, Donaghadee’s all-weather lifeboat Saxon spotted the vessel, a small orange and white speedboat, and within a few minutes was on the scene. The three survivors were taken aboard and checked for injury or illness. One had fallen into the water and was beginning to suffer from the effects of the cold.
The speedboat was taken under tow to Donaghadee Harbour. The survivors were brought to the boathouse, where they were given hot drinks before being interviewed by the Coastguard. After warming up, they were collected by relatives.
Lifeboat coxswain Philip McNamara said: “This could so easily have been a tragedy. Even in calm conditions the sea is a dangerous place. All those who enjoy boating should ensure they have lifejackets and safety equipment before they set out. Always check the weather and ensure someone knows what you are doing and when you expect to return.”