Success for Invergordon RNLI & Port of Cromarty Firth Open Day.

Lifeboats News Release

Invergordon RNLI held their Annual Open Day in partnership with the Port of Cromarty Firth on Saturday 20th August.

With mixed reports of the weather forecast the volunteer fundraisers, volunteer crew and Port staff pulled out all the stops to ensure it was going to be a day to remember whatever the weather threw at us.

With a 6am start, the tents and the infrastructure for the day began to take shape with the mist rolling in, and the iconic Caribbean Princess only a slight outline figure close by.

With lots to do for all the family, the Sun made a very welcome appearance and remained on station all day! 

The day kicked off with RNLI mascot Stormy Stan leading the Ardross Pipeband down from Invergordon High-street to the Shore road venue, with a fine medley of tunes.

The Ardross Pipeband played down the centre of the Craft Market to officially open the Open Day which attracted many to listen to the tunes that the band produced.

A fantastic Craft Market offered displays and goods on sale from very talented crafters like Gemporia Crafts, Linda’s Patchwork, Shin Horn, Beckmor Crafts, The RVS, Wee Grey Stag, Fancy Dancy Felt, Tweedie Flowers, Tamara Ferguson, Little Miss Tweenie and Rab Lights. It was a popular venue for locals and visitors alike, with many from the visiting cruise ship spending the day at the Port and enjoying the sunshine and the craic.

With the crowds continuing to gather and the weather holding up, the famous RNLI BBQ was in full flow, with queues all day long.  Visitors were then able to quickly cool down at the Ice Cream van in a convenient location nearby.

There were lots of things to see and do: at Paco’s Pet Show all shapes and sizes of dogs and even snakes competed for a prize in the various categories.  Best in Show was awarded to Franko the Pug & Jess the Scotty Dog.  (A full list of winners are found below.) Tours around the Service Base enabled visitors to see the iconic jack-up and semisubmersible rigs up close, including the brand new Maersk Highlander rig currently alongside the quay. The Port welcomed a breath taking Sailing Ship called ‘Thalassa’ whose Captain kindly offered to berth in the West Harbour and open the ship for tours around the deck. The children and of course, some adults were taking a close look around the Traffic Police Car from Police Scotland, Ambulance from Scottish Ambulance Service and a regular attraction the Fire Engine from Scottish Fire & Rescue.

In between the events, the musicians kept the atmosphere alive by belting out the tunes and an excellent display of Highland Dancing from the Ann Noble School of Dance, and the Colouring Competition where Joanna Duncan (aged 10) coloured away to win the Remote Control Model Lifeboat that was up for grabs! 

At 1pm teams gathered in fancy dress to pick out the best looking raft of the bunch (if they hadn’t already selected and decorated it). They then made their way to the beach shoreline and waited anxiously for the siren to sound before frantically paddling around the set out course, trying their best to outdo each other and scoop the RNLI Winners Shield. With ideal paddling conditions and the watchful eyes of the safety boats, the rafts took off and battled against the tide and wind with the Howdens Team from Invergordon winning the race and ILM Highland coming runner up. The Fancy Dress was awarded to The Marine Hotel who dressed as convincing Pirates.

The Open Water Wild Swim was another crowd puller on the day with 14 open water swimmers taking to the Cromarty Firth to take on the 1 ¾ mile challenge, albeit not a race but the crowd were very keen to know who completed it the quickest.  The swimmers did not disappoint, with Port of Cromarty Firth member of staff and experienced wild swimmer Colin MacKinnon romping home with a ten minute lead from the group in a staggering 41 minutes.  Behind Colin was Terry Gallagher; tearing up the firth in 52 minutes. The times are listed below for swimmers.

The big finale was a mock rescue display from the Invergordon & Kessock Lifeboats and Coastguard Helicopter 951 from Inverness.  It wowed the crowds with winching operations, man overboard, sea recoveries, smoke flares and the sheer power these SAR units produce and how seamlessly they all work together.

Overall the Invergordon RNLI and Port of Cromarty Firth Open Day was hailed a fantastic day all round by many throughout the day.  The crowds enjoyed excellent music played in the open air by Black Rock Ceilidh Band, Feis Chataibh Ceilidh and the local Ardross Pipeband. The day had something for everyone, and helped visitors understand the vital work of both the RNLI and the Port.

Lifeboat Spokesman Michael MacDonald said “The Lifeboat Open day this year was excellent, with everyone having fun from the Bouncy Castle to the Raft Race.  The crowds were amazing, everyone was happy, and we raised an overwhelming £6000 for the RNLI which will go towards continuing to help save lives at sea. We would like to thank everyone who came along on Saturday and helped make it a day to remember.”

Chief Executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, Bob Buskie also commented on the day “Thank you to everyone who supported the Open Day, from the staff and volunteers at the Port and the RNLI to the visitors, passengers and crew who came along, and to all who took part in the competitions. It was a resounding success and we’re delighted to have helped our local RNLI raise so much money to support their critical work. The Port and RNLI Open Day is always a highlight in our calendar and this year was no exception”.

Raft Race Winners:

1st Place        - Howdens Joinery (Invergordon)

Runner Up    - ILM Highland (Alness)

Fancy Dress - The Marine Hotel (Invergordon)

Wild Swim Timings:

1st Place        - Colin Mackinnon   (41.00)

2nd Place        - Terry Gallagher     (52.04)

3rd Place        - Rick Wells               (54.08)

Pet Show Placings

Best in Show            - Franko The Pug / Jess MacKinnon

Reserve Champion - Cosmic Woodhead

Best Coat                  - Lucy Mackenzie

Wagiest Tail              - Roxy Mitchell

Junior Handler         - Lucy

Loveliest Lady          - Fluffty

Fabulous Fella         - Jaffa The Beagle

Over a Year              - Shakira & Fergus Grant

Best Baby                  - Finn

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.