Fraserburgh Tow in Small Boat Which Lost Power in Storm

Lifeboats News Release

Fraserburgh Lifeboat was launched at 11.50am 4 December 2021 when a small fishing vessel developed engine trouble around a mile and a half from the shore at St Combs, about five miles south of Fraserburgh.

With a sudden storm whipping up tremendous waves there wasn’t a moment to lose.

Within minutes of being paged duty coxswain Dave Sutherland, mechanic Chay Cumming, and RNLI volunteers Jason Flett, Grant Morrison, Stuart Ross, Declan Sutherland, and Doug McGuigan were leaving the harbour aboard the Trent Class ALB Willie and May Gall in what onlookers described as horrendous conditions.

Doug McGuigan was on his first shout

Arriving on scene the crew quickly established a tow with the casualty vessel, and began back towards Fraserburgh into the eye of the storm.

Towing a boat at sea is not like towing a trailer or a caravan on a flat and level road. You tow a boat with a long rope. Imagine towing a trailer or a caravan with a long rope. And instead of a flat road you’ve got the sea where there’s waves and wind and currents and tides. Close to the shore there are rocks and coming into the harbour there’s a lighthouse and piers. Both boats are pitching and rolling, too close and there’s a danger of collision, too far apart the tow rope may snap and cause an injury.

And on this occasion there was a lot of wind and a lot of waves and a lot of pitching and rolling

Fortunately they all arrived safe and well at Fraserburgh Harbour at 1.40pm where the small fishing vessel was tied up securely.

Fraserburgh Lifeboat was washed down and refuelled ready for the next service and then moved to a more sheltered berth beside the Harbour Office.

A very relieved and grateful skipper of the rescued vessel arrived and thanked all the crew for the “fantastic job they all did just now”

“It was very impressive seeing how quickly they did things to make us safe” he said and was full of praise for the lifeboat and crew.

Duty Coxswain Dave Sutherland said his crew had performed very well under the most difficult of conditions and he was proud of them all and well done to new volunteer Doug McGuigan on his first shout.

“Dave’s seamanship and boat handling skills were of the highest order” said one of the volunteers “To manoeuvre the lifeboat close enough, but safe enough, to get a line across and then to get everyone home safely through all these breakers was just brilliant. He made it look easy and this gave us a lot of confidence”


RNLI/Billy Watson

Fraserburgh Lifeboat Leaving the Harbour

RNLI/Billy Watson

Fraserburgh Lifeboat In the Bay

RNLI/Billy Watson

Fraserburgh Lifeboat Towing Small Vessel with only the top of the mast and portion of wheel house visible

RNLI/Billy Watson

Fraserburgh Lifeboat Towing Small Vessel with only the top of the mast visible.

RNLI/Billy Watson

Jason Flett , Grant Morrison, Stuart Ross, Doug McGuigan, Declan Sutherland, mechanic Chay Cumming and duty coxswain Dave Sutherland.

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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