Irish men in hot water after taking boat then needing rescue

Two Irishmen ran into trouble on Saturday night when they missed their ferry home and stole a fishing trawler to try and sail back across the Irish Sea. Stephen Brennan and John Mahoney stole Le Bon Mawr from Holyhead Harbour’s fishing quay after an extended drinking session.

Neither knew how to sail the 30ft boat, however. They became totally lost and sent out a mayday call, initiating an extensive air and sea rescue search. After eight hours at sea and an operation costing several thousand pounds, they were located by the Holyhead lifeboat early on Sunday morning.

Ray Steadman, the lifeboat’s launching officer, said that the men’s seafaring experience was non-existent: ‘when they made the mayday call, they actually thought they were speaking to coastguards in Ireland. They were very surprised when they realised they were talking to Holyhead.’ The pair had assumed they were heading for Dublin, but when found they were off Wylfa in Anglesey, having sailed 12 miles in the wrong direction!

Relieved to be rescued, the men were towed into Holyhead and handed over to the police, who let them off with a caution as they thought no damage had been done to the boat. However, following the boat owner’s complaints that his engine may have been wrecked, they were rearrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage. An engineer will carry out an inspection today.