All hands from the tall ship Astrid were safe on Thursday after the vessel, with nearly two dozen teenagers aboard, ran aground on the rocky south coast of Ireland.
The Astrid, a 136-foot, two-masted Dutch training ship, issued a "mayday" on Wednesday after it ran up on the rocks near Kinsale, County Cork, prompting what the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, or RNLI, described as a major air and sea rescue.
The young sailors were on a training cruise, and the Astrid was "one of 50 vessels taking part in a flotilla-style five-mile journey from Oysterhaven to Kinsale as part of Ireland's 2013 Gathering initiative," Sky News reports:
"As it started to sink around 12 pm, the crew assembled on deck to await rescue.
"Eighteen of the crew were rescued and taken back to Kinsale harbor in another vessel taking part in the event — the Spirit of Oysterhaven, with the remainder being ferried to land in a lifeboat."
A spokesman for the event told The Daily Mail that the vessel, which was close to the shore, was apparently unable to maneuver after it suffered engine failure.
Chrissie Russell, a witness on a nearby tall ship, writes in The Independent that when she heard the mayday, it was "like a bad joke."
"We looked over and saw the huge ship being battered against the rocks, its masts lilting dangerously towards the water, as waves crashed on to the deck.
"With a deep hull, it would have been dangerous to try and maneuver our boat closer or help pull it from the rocks. There was nothing we could do but wait and watch and hope that help would come."
Last year, two crew members were killed when another tall ship, a replica of the HMS Bounty, sank off Cape Hatteras.