Over the past three months the Islay lifeboat has been particularly busy with the Port Askaig-based craft responding to 10 rescue operations. These services included searching for wreckage reported off Rathlin Island in mid-June, followed shortly by towing the yacht ‘Fumerole’ to safe anchorage at Caol Ila after she lost power in Loch Tarbert at Jura.
When the yacht ‘Yuhoigo’ was reported aground at Jura’s Tarbert Bay on July 5th the lifeboat again raced to the scene but stood down when the yacht managed to refloat without damage.
On the 24th July, the yacht ‘Verona’ suffered engine failure in the Gulf of Corryvreckan and the lifeboat towed the stricken vessel to safe moorings at Crinan. Next day the RIB ‘Mor Gorm’ was towed to safety at Castle Sween following gearbox failure at the MacCormick Isles.
Three days later saw the location and recovery of two hill walkers who were lost and fatigued at Glendebadel on the north west coast of Jura. They were taken off-shore by the lifeboat’s inflated Y -Boat and transported by Jura Coastguard to their accommodation at Ardlussa.
On August 5th the lifeboat headed again for Jura when a crew member of the yacht ‘Eliza Fernley’ sustained head injuries at Craighouse.
The most recent and lengthy service call took place on August 8th when the lifeboat went to the assistance of the 84 metre Cypriot-registered coaster ‘Cemfjord’ whose engines had failed off the north west coast of Islay. The local lifeboat was joined by her Portrush counterpart and both towed the stricken vessel - in worsening weather and tidal conditions - to safe anchorage off Scalasaigin Colonsay. After the Portrush lifeboat returned to base the Ileach craft stood by the six-man crew coaster, containing a cargo of white cement bound for Goole in Yorkshire, until such time as the tug ‘Shrew’ arrived on the scene from Northern Ireland. On hearing Port Askaig after this ‘David and Goliath operation, the lifeboat was asked to attend to the yacht ‘Maola’ which had run aground at Bunessan on Mull. On being advised by the Clyde Coastguard that the Tobermory lifeboat had been launched and would be first on the scene the Islay crew returned to base. Local lifeboat operations manager Islay MacEachern speaking of this mammoth operation remarked: “The crew had been on board for eleven and a half hours since the original launch request and this further reinforces their commitment and dedication to duty. This was an outstanding performance and textbook service” .
With kind permission of: Ileach.co.uk The Independent Newspaper for Islay and Jura