by Des Ryan
How far do you keep from the shore while sailing? The best test, according to old salts, is to continue to ask, 'What would happen NOW if my engine/rudder failed?' Plainly a land breeze is safer than a sea breeze in these circumstances, but you need to calculate just how long it would take you to reorganise a method of propulsion. On the basis that the best kind of experience to learn from is 'other people's', a recent incident is a case in point :
The incident occurred off the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland. The yacht, with a crew of two, was experiencing strong winds, when it lost its engine and its rudder at the same time. Too close to the shore to be able to sail the boat away using sails or a jury-rigged rudder, it crashed on to rocks near the east coast.
Ramsey Lifeboat was called into action at 2pm to the aid of the Castletown based vessel, which had been trying to reach the beach, but ended up around half a mile north of the nearest sand, Cornaa Beach.
Because the boat had sustained a hole in its hull it meant it couldn’t be towed and instead the inflatable dinghy was deployed to rescue the two people who had successfully reached the rocks.
However in a dramatic turn of events a large wave flipped the boat as the transfer to the inflatable vessel was taking place, knocking everyone onboard back into the cockpit of the stricken yacht.
The second transfer was successful and both the casualties and crew were transferred back onto the lifeboat. Although unhurt the duo were said to be severely shocked by the ordeal.
An RNLI spokesman confirmed that although the crew of the yacht, who had been travelling north from Port St Mary when the incident happened, were severely shocked, they were unhurt.