Invergordon RNLI were tasked to multiple sailing dinghies which were capsized by Findhorn Bay after what was described by many as a ‘unbelievable’ weather squall which hit the Moray Firth coast line.
Invergordon Lifeboat were in attendance at Chanonary Sailing Club Open Day at Fortrose along with Kessock Lifeboat and the Coastguard Helicopter 951 on Saturday morning, before making their way across the Moray Firth to Nairn Sailing Club Open Day around 12pm with good conditions and calm sea state.
On approach to Nairn the Lifeboats passed through a wild weather squall, where the weather conditions rapidly changed, with strong winds with speeds gusting 56knots at some points, driving rain, hail and thunder and lightning lasting around 10-15 minutes, before reverting to calm sunny conditions previously witnessed.
Kessock Lifeboat and the independent lifeboat Moray Inshore Rescue Organisation (MIRO) from Findhorn were alerted by a member of the public to a capsized dinghy in trouble just out of Nairn Harbour, with 2 reported in the persons in the water. With the dinghy alongside and 2 persons safely on-board the lifeboat, it was then moored within Nairn Harbour and passed over to local coastguard teams.
Invergordon RNLI’s Trent class all-weather lifeboat ‘Douglas Aikman Smith’ was moored by the Harbour wall to begin the PR day run by Nairn Sailing Club, when Aberdeen Coastguard tasked all Lifeboats to an incident at Findhorn where it was reported 7 sailing dinghies were capsized with persons in the water most likely caused by the passing squall.
The volunteer crew of 7 on-board the Invergordon Lifeboat made best speed to the reported location just outside Findhorn Bay. On arrival the majority of dinghies were recovered and persons accounted for.
Aberdeen Coastguard advised there was a report of an unresponsive person in the water. With Rescue 951 tasked to attend also, Invergordon Lifeboat stood by in the Marina to offer any assistance.
The Lifeboat then made its way out of the bay to locate the casualty's upturned sailing vessel which was reported to be a Draughtsman’s Lugger. Arriving on scene and assessing the situation, 2 crew were deployed in dry suits to try and secure a rope to in a bid to right the vessel in order to tow back into Findhorn Marina, after several attempts to right the vessel it was eventually righted using a method of ropes from the Lifeboat and with the assistance of MIRO Rescue and North 58 Sea Adventures ‘Buchaneer’ Rib which then together took the vessel under tow to Findhorn Sailing Club Slipway for recovery.
The Lifeboat was then stood down at and returned to the Invergordon West Harbour berth around 17:25pm where the boat was refuelled and made ready for service.
We have sadly since been advised that the casualty has passed away and our thoughts are with the family at this difficult and sad time.
Invergordon Spokesperson Michael MacDonald speaking on the day’s events said “What started as a calm day with sun breaking out, became a fierce squall which appeared in almost an instant, where visibility was hampered and weather conditions which can only be described as ‘unbelievable’ with thunder and lightning, heavy rain, hail, and driving winds. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the gentleman who sadly lost his life in what should have been a pleasurable sailing trip.”
Note to Editors
RNLI media contacts Michael MacDonald, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer for Invergordon, 01349
853915, 07751 204647, firstname.lastname@example.org
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