Downtown charity yacht hits rocks off Ballycastle

Image caption,
The Lord Rank is a 70ft Oyster ketch which can accommodate 18 people

Six people, including three Downtown radio presenters, were rescued by lifeboat crews on Tuesday night after a 70ft yacht hit rocks near Ballycastle.

Those involved were all taking part in a charity fundraiser on board the Lord Rank when the boat ran aground off Kinbane Head shortly after 2200 BST.

Downtown was broadcasting from the boat, owned by the Ocean Youth Trust, as part of the charity campaign.

DJ Johnny Hero said it was a frightening experience.

"I was sitting going through photographs on the laptop and bang, it was like the scene in Star Trek where the Klingons attack the bridge and everybody gets thrown everywhere," he said.

"I was thrown from one end of the living quarters to the other."

He added: "The boat seemed to be see-sawing back and forth.

"Frightening, because we're only landlubbers. Our first thought was 'is there a hole in this boat? How long do these boats take to sink?'"

The yacht sank on Wednesday morning.


The yacht was being used for Downtown's Cash for Kids charity and was on its way to Portrush when it got into difficulties.

As well as the three radio presenters Johnny Hero, Dougi Marshall and Robert Skates, three crew members from Ocean Youth Trust Ireland, which owns the 70-foot Oyster ketch, were on board.

When they established they were stuck they called the Coastguard.

Lifeboat crews were sent from Red Bay and Portrush and took about half an hour to reach them.

In the meantime a Russian trawler stayed close by.

A dinghy was used to get the six men off the yacht - they had to jump into it for the transfer to the main RNLI boat.

Mr Marshall fell into the sea in the process of this, but was quickly pulled out by the lifeboat crew.

Mark Mahaffy, managing director of Downtown Radio, expressed the company's gratitude to the rescue services for their assistance in ensuring its three presenters and the crew of the Ocean Youth Trust vessel were brought safely ashore.

He said he wanted to assure listeners that the fundraising campaign would continue and that Wednesday night's events in Portrush and Newcastle would go ahead as planned, despite the loss of the Lord Rank.

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