Portaferry RNLI is warning of the dangers of taking to sea in unsuitable craft after rescuing two men when their dinghy became swamped.

Two men had a “lucky escape” after the inflatable dinghy they were in became swamped, sending them into the sea at Killyleagh, Northern Ireland.

Portaferry RNLI is now warning people to think before taking unsuitable vessels out to sea. The inflatable dinghy was fitted with an outboard engine and showed signs of patching on the tube where a repair had been carried out.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were called out just after 7pm on 6 May following reports of two men in the water at Killyleagh. Their cries for help had been heard from the shore.

On arrival, the crew learnt that the men, who are believed to be father and son, had been rescued from the freezing water by a local boat crew.

Commenting on the callout, the 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,” he stressed.

Bailie is now urging 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,” he concluded.