RNLI warning after father and son are rescued on Strangford Lough in 'dangerous' inflatable dingy
Portaferry RNLI has issued a strong warning to those contemplating taking to the water in inappropriate or dangerous craft.
It comes after a father and son were rescued from the freezing waters of Strangford Lough on Friday night.
Despite the relatively calm conditions, the men got into serious trouble and the RNLI said it was luck there was not a serious tragedy on their hands.
Their cries for help were heard from the shore and just after 7pm the lifeboat launched from Portaferry to Killyleagh. The men were found by a local boat crew around three miles from the lifeboat station.
Their inflatable dinghy became swamped and the pair ended up in the water. The inflatable craft was fitted with an outboard engine and showed signs of patching on the tube where a repair had been carried out.
The RNLI said the craft was totally unsuitable for the open water and the addition of the motor made it even more dangerous.
Portaferry RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Brian Bailie said: "These two men had a lucky escape. If their cries for help had not been heard this could have been an awful tragedy.
"These types of craft are totally unsuitable for the open waters off our coast. Conditions and tides can change at a moment’s notice and the sea must be respected.
"An inflatable dinghy which may be okay in a supervised indoor pool is not meant for the sea. Also in this case the addition of the power from the attached outboard engine made an unsuitable craft even more dangerous.
"We would urge people to be responsible and check that they are using the proper equipment when they take to the water.
"Conditions on the lough were quite calm on Friday with a force three and a slight sea, yet these people ended up in serious trouble.
"Thankfully they were wearing personal flotation devices but they spent some time in freezing cold water before their cries were heard and they were rescued."