Fraserburgh Lifeboat assists a stricken vessel in difficult conditions
Fraserburgh Lifeboat volunteers were paged and responded immediately when a fishing boat lost power near Peterhead about a mile south of Boddam Power Station on the afternoon of 30 August 2019
After getting quickly kitted up they left Fraserburgh Harbour at high speed and headed south. Sea conditions weren’t great until they reached Rattray Head and then they got a whole lot worse. A swell of 1.5m quickly changed to a swell of 3.5m. Coxswain Vic Sutherland drove the lifeboat through horrendous seas, with mechanic Jason Flett and volunteer crew members Andrew Lockhart, John May, Lindsay Palmer and Martyn Runcie aboard.
Smashing though mountainous waves they soon passed Buchanness Lighthouse, located the Northern Eagle and made straight for them.
Cautiously approaching the stricken vessel, Coxswain Vic Sutherland had to manoeuvre the lifeboat close enough so that a line could be thrown aboard, but far enough away so that the two boats wouldn’t collide in the huge, heaving seas.
With both vessels pitching and rolling it wasn’t going to be easy
One minute they were 30 feet above the fishing boat looking down, and the next they were 30 feet below looking up at it.
The angry sea was tossing the two vessels up and down, back and forth.
The coxswain instructions came across loud and clear.
'We’ll back astarn till we are close beside her, and when you get your chance, go for it, John.'
Vic, using all his expertise gained in his 30 years experience of the sea, knew he had to choose the right moment to make his move, and hope that John May on deck would be on the same wavelength and anticipate his intentions. John used all the expertise and knowledge gained in his 45 years experience of the sea and timed his throw to perfection.
The heaving line flew across the breakers and landed on deck first time caught by several pairs of anxious and grasping hands.
It made the job a whole lot easier but there was still an awful lot of hard and potentially dangerous work ahead in extremely difficult conditions.
Imagine towing a double-decker bus with a Mini which would be hard enough on a straight and level road. This was similar but at sea in high winds, high waves and strong currents. Oh yes, and with several people aboard,
But they made it after a number of trials and tribulations.
Once in Peterhead Harbour the tow was transferred to the pilot boats, and after escorting the Northern Eagle to her temporary berth, Fraserburgh Lifeboat tied up at the other side and had a fine catch up with some of the Peterhead lads.
We’re really impressed with way they are making changes and making progress.
We always get a fine welcome and great hospitality and we’re looking forward to being able to return the favour sometime soon.
We got back home and made the lifeboat ready for service at 6.30pm.
At the debriefing session Coxswain Sutherland praised everyone’s performance in very difficult conditions and everyone was very satisfied with the happy outcome.
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.