Donegal divers take on another challenge

Sheephaven SAC plan 'fin swim' to Tory Island

Sheephaven SAC


Sheephaven SAC


Donegal divers take on another challenge

Members of Sheephaven SAC's S&R team at Rathmullan.

Sheephaven Search and Recovery Unit were in action on Saturday morning at Rathmullan Pier, after they had been requested to search for some missing personal effects lost by a member of the public who recently had a frightening experience at the pier, when they fell into the water.

Fortunately the person involved was safely recovered, but their processions were not and consequently the Sheephaven S&R Unit was called to have a look.

This is not the first time that divers have gone looking for personal effects; previously they successfully recovered a wedding ring in Burtonport, to the great relief of the unfortunate man, who dreaded explaining the loss to his wife.

On Saturday John Joe Rowland led the S&R divers from Sheephaven and Strabane SACs in a swim line search out from the pier, then after ascending and repositioning the line they returned on a different track back to the pier.

For some of Saturday morning’s dive team it was an opportunity to try out the new S&R skills that they acquired after the recent training exercise hosted by Sheephaven SAC for the North West Region.

While the primary objective of the dive, finding the lost personal possessions, was not successful, the secondary objective of further S&R training was more than so. This was demonstrated by the newly qualified S&R divers blending in with the more experienced divers in a well-conducted search pattern, managed under the guidance of snorkelers Anne Boyle and John Joe Rowland controlling the swim line rope from the surface.

Nonetheless in-water conditions were challenging, with water visibility reduced to not much more than arm’s length, while water temperature was a bracing 6 degrees Celsius. Additionally the tide had turned by the time the return leg had commenced and the current was quite noticeable at the end of the search.

Surface-to-surface dive time was under 30 minutes, with a maximum depth obtained of 10m metres.

After the dive debrief, the party repaired to the hospitality of the nearby Belles Café, where Ronnie McConnell and his staff put on a proper divers’ breakfast to everyone’s appreciation.

Another challenge for Sheephaven

Formidable, mammoth, lengthy and awesome are just some words that can describe the next challenge on Sheephaven Sub Aqua Club’s list.

Sheephaven SAC are no strangers to challenging tasks but their plan to ‘fin swim’ from Falcarragh Beach to Tory Island in June under the coaching of Hugo McFadden will certainly be all that.

One of the more recent challenges that the Sheephaven SAC divers took part in was the Mannequin Challenge, a viral Internet video trend where people remain frozen in action like mannequins while a moving camera filmed them. Great fun was had by all who participated. However, the Tory Challenge will require a little more training.

Tory Island or simply Tory, or Oileán Thoraí, is 14.5 kilometres (9 miles) off the north-west coast of Donegal. The swim may stretch out further than 14.5 km if the tide and currents have any significant effect. They expect the swim to take between five and six hours to complete.

There was good turnout for a training session at Portnablagh Pier. Snorkelers took to the cold water (approx. 7 degrees) and snorkeled over to ‘the Point’ and back. (The 3 amigos went to Killahoey beach & back.) Visibility was fantastic, which made the snorkel even more enjoyable. It was over to Lizzie’s Diner then, for the coffee and the craic.

For those who are interested in this fin swim, they should get into the water and start training now as fitness, stamina and a positive mental attitude are attributes that are needed to get the divers through this mammoth task.