Anstruther RNLI scramble to mayday call when fishing vessel is grounded on rocks
Volunteers from Anstruther RNLI dashed to the aid of a fisherman when his boat ran aground after taking on water and encountering serious mechanical failure off the coast of Pittenweem.
The crew were paged shortly before 3.00pm yesterday (Thursday 10 September) when the fisherman raised the alarm on his VHF radio to alert the UK Coastguard. Nearby fishing vessels rushed to the area and stood by while lifeboats scrambled to the scene.
Arriving first, the RNLI inshore lifeboat crew began to help manually pump the water out of the stricken vessel. Following closely behind was Anstruther’s all-weather lifeboat which transferred a salvage pump across to the vessel via the inshore lifeboat and began working to get rid of the excess water onboard.
The Helm of the inshore lifeboat carefully pulled the fishing vessel to safety, navigating through the rocks on its way towards open waters and the safety of St Monans harbour.
Meanwhile, a second call for help came in from a nearby fishing vessel who required assistance after becoming entangled on a creel rope. The all-weather lifeboat established a tow and helped the vessel into St Monans harbour.
Commenting after a busy afternoon, Coxswain Michael Bruce praised the decision making of the fisherman when faced with unforeseen and unavoidable mechanical failure. Michael said: ‘A mayday is the highest level of distress call available and using this ultimately saved the vessel from sinking. When the mechanical issues arose, the alternative was to risk deep open waters and attempt a landing into Pittenweem. If the fisherman had chosen this option, we could be looking at a very different outcome. He did the right thing to call for help.’
The quick response of neighbouring vessels when the mayday call was issued was a very welcome one to both the RNLI and the fisherman.
The use of mayday in an emergency certainly served its purpose on this occasion and is a timely reminder to all in what to do if you are or see someone in difficulty.
On a VHF radio, use channel 16 to contact the Coastguard using ‘mayday’ three times before your message. On a mobile phone, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
Both lifeboats returned to Anstruther shortly before 6.00pm and were made ready for service.
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.