Resourceful lifeboat crew rescues family from mudbank.

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Published on: May 23, 2009

23 May 2009

RNLI Inshore Lifeboat Bessie’ carried out a dramatic rescue on the mudbanks of the river Ilen, Skibbereen.

A 20ft family motorboat stranded in the mud on a falling tide presented an unusual challenge for the rescue services, The mudbanks were surrounded by water making rescue from land impossible, whilst rescue from the sea was also restricted.

Coxswain Micheál Cottrell decided to attempt a rescue and lifeboat crewman Ronan Callanan, volunteered to cross the 80 feet of deep estuarial mud, to reach the stricken vessel. Ronan waded through the mud to the family group consisting of a father and two children, who were inadequately prepared for an overnight aboard the boat.

Having run out an anchor to secure the vessel. Ronan and the single adult board hatched a plan to bring the family to safety. Carrying the children across the mud was deemed impractical. Ronan and the children’s father decided they could cross the mud by utilising the body boards on the boat as stepping-stones to safety.

Everyone took a body board on which they could spread their weight across the mud. The fifth board was used to allow a progressive further step to safety. Making slow but steady progress the group approached

the waiting lifeboat. Ronan had to carry the children,  age 8 & 10, over the last 20feet as the mud became increasingly slippy.

Coxswain Micheál Cottrell, and crewman Paul O’Driscoll, assisted the exhausted foursome aboard the inshore lifeboat. Relieved and unharmed the Cork based family were brought to Oldcourt near Skibbereen. The lifeboat then proceeded back to Baltimore, where she and the crew had to be washed  down with hoses.

Crewman Ronan Callanan said, ‘it was one of the most tiring things he had every done’.

The entire operation took place in less than two hours. The alert was raised at 20:00. The lifeboat was launched at 20:06 and she was returned to base at 21:52

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