Carrickcraft is one of the larger cruiser hire firms operating on the Irish inland waterways. It has three bases: at Banagher and Carrick-on-Shannon on the Shannon and at Tully Bay on Lower Lough Erne.
On Saturday 11 July 2009 we were moored just inside the entrance of the old harbour at Dromod on Lough Bofin, some distance downstream of Carrick-on-Shannon. Saturday is the most popular day for changeovers, so on Saturday evenings there are usually several first-time hirers learning how to handle their boats, their charts and all the new systems that face them. This particular Saturday, though, was already wet and windy, with poor visibility, and even worse weather was forecast for Saturday night. (It duly arrived: at 2.00am on Sunday, the barometer was at 988.)
Some time before 6.00pm on the Saturday, I became aware that a large Carrickcraft cruiser had gone aground outside Dromod. It was clearly inside a black marker, and one to which the charts call special attention, but the visibility was dreadful, as the photos below make clear. It was probably a miserable start to their holiday for the hirers, especially in the awful weather.
There is some guesswork in my comments below, as I was interpreting things from a distance; if I’ve got anything wrong, do please let me know.
Carrickcraft cruiser aground
Within less than an hour, a Carrickcraft dory had been driven down from Carrick-on-Shannon by road and had been launched at Dromod. That was an impressive speed of response, given that Saturday was probably the firm’s busiest day. The dory made several unsuccessful attempts to tow the cruiser off in different directions.
The dory trying to shift the cruiser
The dory returns to Dromod for reinforcements
One of the dory’s crew brought out a second Carrickcraft cruiser. I don’t know, but I guess it was “borrowed” from another holiday-maker.
You can just see the second cruiser behind the first, presumably attaching ropes
The second cruiser had the weight to shift the grounded boat.
Pulling it off (as it were)
Passing the black marker
Casting off the tow
The dory returns to Dromod
The rescued boat (or so I guess)
The time between the first photo on this page and the last was just thirty minutes. So, as well as responding speedily to the call-out, the Carrickcraft crew carried out the entire process very efficiently. The two cruisers were securely tied in Dromod harbour well before the really bad weather hit.