Safety first say crew after yacht rescue

Girvan Lifeboat, the Silvia Burrell.
Girvan Lifeboat, the Silvia Burrell.

Girvan lifeboat has emphasised safety at sea after coming to the aid of a yacht bound for the Caribbean with only basic equipment on board.

At 9.42pm on Saturday 5th August, Girvan’s All-weather lifeboat was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard. A member of the public had sighted a yacht that looked as though it had trouble with its mast around half mile west of Bennane caravan park near Lendalfoot and informed the coastguard via a 999 call.

Lifeboat 12-37 ‘Silvia Burrell’ and her volunteer crew were soon making best speed out of the harbour entrance and heading South, with darkness creeping in fast and with a fresh North Westerly wind rolling into our side, we were before long nearing the area where the vessel had been sighted.

The flashing blue lights of Ballantrae Coastguard Rescue Team’s vehicle could be seen on land indicating the crew were close, with no communications established to the vessel it was imperative that the lifeboat got to it as soon as possible, with still nothing showing on the radar.

Craig Sommerville said: “A few minutes later we could just make out a single dull light, then the mast and the yacht, lighting it up with our searchlights a sole figure appeared from the stern of the sailing vessel ‘Misjif’.

“Communications although via the casualty’s very fractured English were opened up and he was moored for the night and seemed quite happy and no issues seemed apparent with his mast.

“The lifeboat crew advised him that with the current wind direction and having actually moored his yacht onto a fishing creel bouy was possibly not the best and safest option for him to spend the night especially with the sea hitting him side on and rolling the yacht severely as well as the creel not being a fixed anchor point, where he could still end up ashore on the rocks.

“The safest option for him as he did not appear to have any working navigation lights either was to be in the safety of a harbour.

“Girvan Lifeboat escorted the casualty back to Girvan where it was met and berthed by members of Ballantrae Coastguard Rescue Team.

“It transpires the vessel was lacking some basic safety equipment, it had left Largs marina destined for the Caribbean, we do hope the safety advice of the CRT hits home with the mariner and would reaffirm if heading to sea on any vessel, that you have all the correct safety equipment, the vessel is sea worthy and correctly equipped, and also have a working method of communication if not more than one, checking in with the coastguard with your intentions would do no harm either.

“The lifeboat was back in Girvan and made ready for service once again at around midnight, in this instance it was deemed a false alarm with good intent from the initial 999 call, but also invaluable and a blessing in disguise as it ensured the sailor was moored in a safer place for the night and received some valuable safety advice from the Coastguard Rescue Team.”

The RNLI operates over 230 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 100 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK.