Crabber Léim an Bhradán, with two crew aboard, had every thing required for emergency communications: flares, EPIRB, VHF as well as a liferaft but none of it worked when she capsized at about 1400 on the morning of Saturday 30th October 2010. The incident serves as a cautionary tale whatever size vessel you’re on.
Her inflatable liferaft sat unsecured in a cradle atop the wheelhouse. It was not equipped with a hydrostatic release or weak-link that would result in the liferaft opening automatically and the painter was not attached to the vessel. The two crew then found themselves faced with trying to open the canister while it floated free.
One of the two men was able to cut the canister straps with a key.
Meanwhile the vessel’s EPIRB went down with the boat. It was in the wheelhouse, not in an external float-free holder, so could not float to the surface and activate.
The men finally boarded the SOLAS equipment pack in the liferaft and fired off two red parachute flares but there were no other vessels around to see them. An hour later they saw a Coast Guard helicopter and fired an orange smoke flare which was not seen by the helicopter, which was on a training flight.