Warning issued as teens found on Lough Swilly in inflatable dinghy

Inishowen's Lough Swilly RNLI has issued a warning to swimmers.
Inishowen's Lough Swilly RNLI has issued a warning to swimmers.

Lough Swilly RNLI were called out twice this week to deal with incidents relating to inflatable dinghies.

On Monday last, the crew, based at Ned’s point, were alerted by a person on shore, who had become concerned about an individual in a dinghy on the Swilly.

The RNLI went to the scene, but the man, who had paddles in his possession, informed them he did not need assistance.

In the second incident, which occurred on Tuesday evening, the crew were called to assist two teenage girls who were out on a dinghy without life jackets or paddles.

The teens, aged 14 and 15, were 500 metres from shore on the Swilly and had been using their hands to propel themselves forward in the water.

The dinghy was bought in a supermarket and unsuitable for the waters of the Lough.

It is understood it also was not fully inflated.

The Lough Swilly RNLI were alerted to the dinghy by members of the public, who were on the shore as the crew undertook training exercises on Tuesday evening at approximately 7.30pm.

Lough Swilly RNLI alerted Malin Head Coast Guard and were tasked to the scene.

While conditions on the land on Tuesday were relatively favourable, there was a strong breeze blowing on the Lough.

A spokesperson for the RNLI said the teens were of the view they could swim ashore at any time. However, the water at the scene is quite deep and the distance from where they were to shore is quite a swim.

The RNLI crew took the girls ashore and retained the dinghy.

RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John McCarter said the inflatables were “highly dangerous and should not be used in the sea, rivers or lakes.”

Last year, a number of fatalities occurred across the country over the space of three weeks, many of which took place on rivers and lakes.

Last week, the Irish Coastguard expressed concern after children were found in a supermarket dinghy off the Co. Dublin coast.

They were wearing swimming armbands as floatation aids.

On that occasion, a spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard, which issued a picture of the incident said: ““This is another example of what’s being encountered by our Coast Guard boats on patrol during this warm weather spell.”

While supermarket dinghies are popular in warmer climates, warnings have been issued to swimmers that Irish waters aren’t quite as calm.