It’s been a busy week for Oban lifeboat, reaching their 50th call out of the year on Sunday, followed by another last night.
At 9.07am on Sunday the 7th October, the assistance of Oban lifeboat, ‘Mora Edith MacDonald’, was requested by UK Coastguard to investigate reports of a kayak adrift and possibly in difficulty east of the Falls of Lora, at the entrance to Loch Etive.
The lifeboat left the berth at 9.14am with a crew of seven. Arriving in the area shortly after, the first challenge was to navigate the fast flowing currents of the Falls of Lora, a tidal gate at the mouth of Loch Etive where the currents can run at up to 12 knots. The lifeboat made its way against a strong outgoing tide under the Connel Bridge, arriving on scene at the reported location by 9.33am.
A search was started immediately but with nothing sighted and considering the strong ebb tide at the time, the lifeboat returned under the bridge to carry out searches of the wider area, including Ardmucknish bay.
At 10.32am with the area thoroughly covered by the lifeboat, as well as land searches conducted by both Oban and Appin Coastguard Rescue Teams, it was decided the original concerns were a false alarm with good intent. All services were therefore stood down. This was the 50th call out this year for Oban lifeboat.
The second call came yesterday evening, Tuesday 10th October.
The volunteer crew of Oban lifeboat, ‘Mora Edith MacDonald’, were requested to launch by UK Coastguard at 8.19pm yesterday evening after reports that a red flare had been sighted in driving rain conditions, at the south end of the Sound of Mull. The sighting had been reported by a local vessel operating in the area, and had been seen again shortly after the launch of the lifeboat.
A red flare is one of the signals for maritime distress and as a result the Coastguard issued a ‘Pan Pan’ alert to all vessels in the area. Two local vessels headed to the scene and found they could see a white light on the Morvern shoreline close to a bothy at Inninmore Bay, just south of the entrance to Loch Aline.
The lifeboat arrived on scene at 8.43pm and proceeded to launch the xp boat. With two crew members on board, the daughter craft landed ashore to investigate further. The bothy itself stands on a very isolated stretch of the Morvern coastline, at the foot of high cliffs.
Following investigation it transpired that the four male occupants of the bothy who were safe and well, had been walking and were staying overnight. One, however, was using a very high powered head torch, which transpired to be the sighting initially reported.
After ruling out all other possibilities, it was therefore decided a false alarm with good intent. Oban lifeboat was free to return to station where she was refuelled and ready for service again by 10.30pm.
Deputy coxswain James Hardie, who was on duty for the call out said “Thanks again to the local vessel’s for reporting the incident which could have easily been something more serious.”
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.