Royal Ulster Yacht Club members John and Sally McKee played a crucial part in their motor cruiser in a dramatic incident on the Shannon waterway last Saturday.
A private cruiser from Limerick was making a passage northwards on Lough Ree but due to a navigational error ran aground on rocks in Cruit Bay, now known as Portrunny, on the western shore of the Lough. Onboard were two adults and three children and the boat suffered serious hull damage.
The Lifeboat was launched within 10 minutes and on station in 30 minutes. By then the children had been transferred to the cruiser's punt, along with the mother of two of the children and an aunt to the third. All were very wet and cold. The McKee's Mosquito offered assistance and stood by the casualty at a safe distance. The lady and children were taken on board Mosquito where Sally and John provided reassurance to the distressed Mum and children along with hot drinks, dry towels and a warm cabin. The Skipper remained on board the stricken vessel in an attempt to save it but eventually took the instructions from the RNLI coxswain and evacuated onto the lifeboat.
The nearest harbour was Portrunny where ‘Mosquito’ safely docked an hour later, keeping the crew onboard until transport was arranged back to Limerick.
Lough Ree lifeboat Operations Manager Tony McCarth said: "The vessel was badly damaged and the salvage pump put onboard was overwhelmed, there was no option other than abandoning the cruiser. The decision to put the mother and children aboard Mosquito was entirely rational as it would have been a very wet cold journey for them in an open RIB".
This was one of two callouts for Lough Ree RNLI who helped a total seven people to safety. The callouts were both to grounded cruisers and gave the lifeboat crew only nine minutes rest between them. The first was to help two people onboard a 27ft cruiser which had run aground near a navigation marker and the second was the incident in which Mosquito was involved.