The historic tall ship, Astrid, struck rocks and sank off the Cork coast, en route to Kinsale. The crew of 29 were rescued by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Coastguard.
The teenage crew on board praised their emergency training saying it helped them keep calm during their dramatic rescue. The crew was made up of 20 teenagers from Britain, Ireland and Europe on board the Dutch-owned tall ship. The ship hosts aspiring sailors on training trips around the world.
On Wednesday morning the ship’s engine failed and the crew could do nothing to stop the ship veering towards the rocks.
Within 30 minutes the lifeboats had been called out from County Cork. Two coast guard helicopters were also on the scene.
Daragh Comiskey (17), from County Wexford, was among the crew. He told BreakingNews.ie, “It was very rough when we hit the rocks.
“There were a few attempts to get the ship back off them but that wasn’t going to work. I only realised the ship was in real trouble when the life jackets started getting handed out.”
While May Day calls were made and the drama unfolded Comiksey said the crew remained calm.
“Everyone knew what to do, we were all trained. We just listened to instructions.
“Everyone got back safely, which is what matters.”
The ship is owned by Ineke de Kam and her husband Pieter. He was captaining the vessel during the incident.
She said, “I spoke with him on the phone and he’s okay.
“All the people are safe and that is very important – the crew and all the trainees are safe.
“But, everything is lost. We cannot believe it.
“He was using the small motor and it would not start and then he put all the sails up but it was too late, he was on the rocks. Then he called the Coastguard and they arrived in time to help and everyone is safe.
“I was so shook up when I heard – I could not believe it. There is so much to do in Ireland – I do not know when he will be home. I am just glad he is okay and that he was able to call me.”
A spokesperson from the RNLI, Vincent O’Donovan, said, “It was very dramatic.
“It happened very quickly, thanks be to God the rescue was successful.
He added, “It was very hairy, anything could have gone wrong, if the life rafts were blown onto the rocks it could have been very serious.”
The ship was one of 50 vessels taking part in the five mile journey from Oysterhaven to Kinsale, in County Cork, as part of a Gathering tourist event.
The historic ship was built in 1918, in the Netherlands, as a cargo ship. The ship, under Swedish ownership, worked the Baltic sea trade routes until 1975.
After this it is said the Astrid fell into the ownership of drug smugglers.
She was found abandoned and burnt out on the coast of England in the early 1980s. She was then transformed into a sailing vessel for young people.
The de Kams bought the ship seven years ago. It is not expected to sail again after this disaster.
Here’s the Irish Examiner’s footage of the accident: