A group of fishermen from the Aran Islands were rescued from the rough seas near the Scottish Hebrides earlier this week, with the last man pulled to safety mere seconds before the boat sank into the water.
“She fought it to the last, but she was gone under within 35 seconds,” the owner of the boat, Mairtín Ó Conghaíle, 63, from Inis Mór, told the Irish Times. “They often say it’s good to be above ground, but we are also very lucky to be above water.”
Ó Conghaíle, along with his son Micheál, Padhraig Breathneach and Eric Hernon from Carna, Co. Galway and Vitor Lebit from Romania, had departed from Rossaveal, Co. Galway last weekend and headed for the open water to fish for mackerel. When the boat suddenly began taking water on Monday morning, they called the Malin Head Coast Guard, who sent the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency to their rescue with a pump and a helicopter.
The boat, called the Iúda Naofa, lost power and began sinking into the choppy waves. The crew, who fortunately had immersion suits, jumped into the freezing water. There were only seconds to spare by the time the Coast Guard arrived. The men were in the water for eight minutes before being pulled to safety by the Coast Guard. Two were airlifted onto the Star of Hope, a nearby fishing trawler, and three, including Ó Conghaíle himself, were taken to the Western Isles Hospital on the Isle of Lewis, where they received treatment for mild hypothermia.
“I had that boat for 23 years,” Ó Conghaíle told the Irish Times. “It’s a different type of sea, a different type of weather out there now and even the forecasters find it hard to get it right. “It must be climate change.”
“The Missions to Seamen looked after us really well - it was unreal,” he added “They do a lot of great work that no one takes much notice of.”