New Buckie Lifeboat coxswain gets his first shout just 72 hours after qualifying
The RNLI’s Buckie Lifeboat was at the centre of a dramatic yacht rescue on the night of Sunday 1st August - with newly qualified coxswain Davie Grant in command for the first time, just 72 hours after he passed his gruelling final handling test.
UK Coastguard paged Buckie Lifeboat at 9.15pm to respond to a Mayday message from a motor yacht reported 3 miles north-east of Lossiemouth, unable to make way under sail or engine having suffered total engine and electrical failure.
Buckie’s Severn-class lifeboat ‘William Blannin’ launched with her volunteer crew within ten minutes of the initial call and, making best speed to scene, coxswain Davie Grant quickly assessed that the 32 ft yacht was disabled and was being driven ashore by a strengthening nor-nor-westerly wind. The only safe course was to tow the vessel to the nearest safe port, Buckie; Lossiemouth, although closer, posed particular hazards at the harbour entrance in the prevailing tide and wind conditions.
A line was put aboard the yacht and a slow tow, at around 4 knots, began back to Buckie: the yacht was safely brought alongside in Buckie Harbour around 3 hours later.
‘Baptism of fire’, says coxswain
Buckie Lifeboat Station’s newly qualified coxswain, Davie Grant – who had only passed out after rigorous written and practical tests the previous Thursday evening, said his first ‘shout’ was a considerable challenge.
“It was something of a baptism of fire”, says Davie Grant. “This was the first time I had ever towed a vessel into Buckie harbour: to have to do it at night, and with a nor-nor-westerly wind blowing into the harbour entrance, was a real challenge. The crew, however, responded fantastically: we shortened the tow line to give us maximum control over the casualty vessel and, in the end, the crew made it look straightforward despite any first night nerves on my part!”
Coxswain Grant, who has 27 years’ service with Buckie Lifeboat crew, took over as the Lifeboat Station’s full-time coxswain/mechanic in June 2020 after his predecessor, Alan Robertson, was promoted to a full-time staff coxswain role with the RNLI nationally. His appointment, however, was conditional on him successfully adding the coxswain qualification to the mechanic qualifications he had already held for more than a decade.
“Training for the coxswain role was made much more challenging by the restrictions brought about by Covid-19,” says Davie Grant. “It’s an honour now to be the fully-fledged coxswain/mechanic at Buckie Lifeboat Station, with its wonderful crew and fantastic lifesaving tradition of service to the community here in Moray.”
Buckie Lifeboat Operations Manager, Anne Scott, sees Davie’s ‘passing out’ as a triumph for the Station and the town, as well as for Davie.
Anne Scott says: “It’s a measure of the strength-in-depth at Buckie Lifeboat that the station has, in the last year, been able to see two of its coxswain’s – Alan Robertson and 2nd coxswain Mike Rennie - promoted to roles in the RNLI elsewhere – and yet still provide for succession by accelerating Davie’s training from within our own team.
“This shows not only the strength of the Buckie Lifeboat crew, but also the commitment of the community to supporting its lifeboat. The station has 24 volunteer crew-members, every one of them dependent on the support and understanding of their families and of their employers locally.”
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.