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Canoe reunited with owner after paddle on Loch Ness goes wrong

Lifeboats News Release

On 21 April the lifeboat on Loch Ness was called out to reports of three persons in the water.

The lifeboat arrived on the scene, in time to see one of the casualties being winched into the coastguard helicopter Rescue 951. The two remaining casualties, plus their dog, had managed to swim to shore.


The lifeboat crew joined officers from Police Scotland on the shore, where it was established the police officers would transport the casualties to Raigmore Hospital, in Inverness, as a matter of urgency.


On returning to the lifeboat, the volunteer crew carried out a search for any of the casualties’ equipment, and were able to recover various dry bags, as well as the heavily swamped canoe “Tanky”.


Reports eventually emerged that all three men were safe and well, despite spending up to 40 minutes in the bitterly cold waters of Loch Ness.



On 4 May, Alex and his dog Ernie returned to Loch Ness, to visit the lifeboat station and be reunited with “Tanky”.


Alex and his friends James & Davi, were paddling the Caledonian Canal, and had been heading towards their next campsite at Dores, after stopping for lunch at Urquhart Castle. Whilst crossing the Loch, they realised the wind was gradually picking up, leading to increasingly larger waves.

Slowly at first, the waves started filling Alex’s canoe with water, and despite bailing water frantically, the canoe became increasingly unstable, which led to more and more water being taken onboard. The realisation soon hit that the canoe was a lost cause, and the only way to safety was to swim the 1km to the nearest shore.

On the shore, a passing campervan had stopped to take in the views of Loch Ness, soon spotted the swimmers, and raised the alarm, triggering the multi agency search operation.


The Loch Ness RNLI team were delighted to learn that everyone involved are now safe and well. Alex, James and Davi are now planning to raise funds for the RNLI.

Alex Owen

The moment when the group realised they had to swim for safety

RNLI/Loch Ness Team

RNLI crew recovering the canoe

RNLI/David Ferguson

Alex and Ernie, reunited with their canoe, alongside crew member David

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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.