The Baltimore inshore lifeboat, which rescued the men off West Cork yesterday morning, said the pair had put themselves at serious risk of death through hypothermia or drowning.
“These men are very lucky to be alive,” Baltimore Lifeboat operations manager Tom Bushe said.
The men, who are believed to be Lithuanian, were fishing in a seven-foot rubber dinghy powered by a four horse power petrol engine in Baltimore harbour. They were wearing casual clothing and had neither life jackets nor suitable clothing for the cold weather.
When their engine broke down, they were quickly swept out to sea and were only able to alert the emergency services by calling 999 from a mobile phone. The inshore lifeboat, the Atlantic 75 RIB, Bessie, launched at 10.15am with helm John Kearney, Micheál Cottrell and Youen Jacob on board. They proceeded to an area one cable (a tenth of a nautical mile or about 200 metres) south of the Beacon at the entrance to Baltimore harbour, where the dinghy was adrift on open sea. The lifeboat crew took the two men on board and slung the dinghy into the RNLI RIB and brought them back to Baltimore Harbour.
Mr Bushe said the men were unharmed, but had a lucky escape.
Meanwhile, the Ballycotton lifeboat towed a stricken French fishing vessel with five crew on board to safety yesterday.
The alarm was raised at 8.30am when the crew on board the 20-metre vessel, which was about 20 miles east of Ballycotton, reported its nets had become snagged in the boat’s propellers. The boat was towed back at about lunchtime.