Busy Times for Islay's Lifeboat Crew

The Islay lifeboat crew’s dedication to lifesaving continues unabated and over the past seven months they have responded to ten rescue calls. At the end of March, the lifeboat went to the aid of the Jura ferry which was stuck on the Feolin slipway and unable to manoeuvre owing to strong to gale force northerly winds and an ebbing tide. A tow rope was successfully attached to the ferry’s stern enabling the vessel to slide off the jetty at the first attempt. The lifeboat escorted the ferry on her return crossing to Port Askaig.

April 27 saw the lifeboat heading for Craighouse Bay where a woman on a chartered vessel was suffering from suspected haemorrhaging. The woman and her partner were put aboard the rescue vessel but as the CalMac and Jura ferries restricted access at Port Askaig the patient was taken to the pier at Caolila where she was handed over to local paramedics.

On May 27 the lifeboat launched to search for a yacht reported to be aground at the entrance to West Loch Tarbert. On approach, it was apparent that the vessel was circling in the middle of the channel and that the crew were not in control of the craft or the situation. A tow was established and the vessel was taken to Kennacraig where local coastguards took control. Continue reading.....

With the Jura ferry out of operation due to engine failure on May 30th and 31st, the lifeboat was requested to stand by while the backlog of traffic stranded on Jura was dealt with. They complied, along with the local coastguard team, and several runs were made by the ferry, operating on one engine, over the two days to clear the accumulated traffic.

The lifeboat headed for the stricken yacht 'Magic Moments' reported to be in the Ardmore area on June 24. As communications with the yacht had been lost the lifeboat crew was guided by a red parachute flare. On arrival at the scene, the yacht was found to be broken down and dragging her bow and stern anchors towards the rocks. A tow rope was engaged and the casualty was requested to raise her anchors. Only one anchor could be retrieved and a buoy was attached to the fouled anchor for later collection. The vessel was towed back to Port Askaig where her fuel gauge was found to be faulty. On July 8 an elderly gentleman on a yacht in Craighouse Bay was reported to be suffering a heart attack. The lifeboat stood down when it was established that a local doctor was in attendance.

Clyde Coastguards requested assistance on 31st July when a cabin cruiser was reported to be drifting and unmanned in the Sound of Gigha. A search for two missing persons took place when an abandoned open boat and a pile of wet clothing were discovered on the north end of Loch Sween on September 21. The operation also involved the coastguard service and a search helicopter. Happily, the missing men were found safe and well in a house in Tayvallich and all units stood down.

On the journey back to Port Askaig the lifeboat was diverted to the south of Islay where several canoeists were reported to be in difficulties in heavy seas off Port Weymss. Coastguards reported however that the distressed canoeists had been found safe and well and the lifeboat returned to base. During this period 26 training exercises were also carried out as well as crew training and on the public relations front the 'Helmut Schroder of Dunlossit II' and her crew had a visible presence at the Port Ellen fishing boat race and at the Port Charlotte Gala Day.

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This story was published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.

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