Fisherman swept from boat swims 1½ miles to safety

A fisherman who fell from his vessel off the south-west coast yesterday managed to swim one-and-half miles through treacherous conditions before waving for help from a small island.

The Coast Guard said the man’s survival was down to his strong swimming ability combined with the fact he was wearing a lifejacket when he went into the water.

Toe Head Coastguard got a call from Valentia at 1.40pm telling them that a member of the public on shore had reported seeing a man standing on an island waving an orange jacket.

The coastguard launched two ribs, a D class and a bigger rib, from Castletownshend, three miles west of the man’s location.

They were on scene at 2.15pm and found him almost immediately on the island known locally as “seal rock”.

Shannon Rescue helicopter arrived at almost the same time.

The coastguard took him off the island before he was airlifted onto the helicopter. The fisherman, who is in his 30s and from the parish of Myross, was able to tell his rescuers that he had been working from his 10-metre catamaran about a mile-and-a-half west. He had been fishing for lobster and crab.

The sea conditions were very rough and the coastguard believe he was either washed or fell overboard.

Toe Head Coast Guard officer in charge, Richard Hurley, said: “He is a very lucky man. The fact he was wearing a lifejacket and was a strong swimmer saved his life.”

The man was airlifted to CUH suffering from exposure and shock. He was expected to make a full recovery.

Toe Head Coast Guard also located the stricken vessel aground at the eastern side of Toe Head. The vessel was floated on the rising tide and brought back to Castletownshend Harbour.

The incident comes just four months after five men died when the Tit Bonhomme trawler went down at the mouth of nearby Glandore Harbour on Jan 15.

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