Rathlin Ferry rescues five divers



RATHLIN EXPRESS crewman Connor McCurdy has paid tribute to the passengers who were on board the ferry when they diverted following a distress call on Sunday afternoon, saying they had been “very understanding and patient!”

As a result of the diversion, five divers were rescued off the coast of Rathlin Island after their boats developed mechanical problems and started filling with water.

The divers, from Viking Sub Aqua Club in Dublin, were at risk of sinking in high seas when they were rescued by The Rathlin Express, which was skippered by Michael Cecil.

Lifeboats were also launched from Red Bay and Portrush and towed the two broken-down vessels to shore.

Speaking to The Chronicle, Connor explained: “We were heading from Ballycastle to Rathlin and we had received the distress call. I was assisting Michael with the binoculars and at the start I couldn't see much.

“After about 20 minutes I glimpsed a flash of orange before it disappeared between the waves again. Shortly after that I got a proper visual and we headed over towards the two vessels. We quickly realised one was taking on a lot of water and after discussions with Michael we made it to the scene and took the passengers from one of the vessels on board.”

Speaking to Connor it seems like it was a simple enough task – but when you've 19 passengers on board in rough seas, the safety of each and every person was in Michael and Connor's hands.

He continued: “We had to make sure it was the right time to lift the men on board the Rathlin Express. We had to tie their boat off and open the side gate. We made our way to the second vessel and did the same, all in all it probably took over an hour before we headed back to Ballycastle.”

But modest Connor said he didn't feel heroic, instead praising the passengers for their patience and thanking Sebastian Thompson, who was on board at the time.

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The scene of the last serious accident at the Gracehill Rd/ Bregagh Road junction on May 21. WK2250-K-MY.