Three call outs in 18 hours for Tobermory RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Tobermory RNLI's volunteer crew had three call outs in 18 hours over the bank holiday weekend, receiving help from a pod of dolphins during all three of their shouts.

Tobermory RNLI's volunteer crew were first paged by Stornoway Coastguard on the evening of Saturday 29 May 2021 following a distress alert from a vessel believed to be in the Ross of Mull. The crew launched Tobermory's Severn class all-weather lifeboat, Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey, but were stood down at Croig when Stornoway Coastguard reported that the alert had been a false alarm.

Sunday 30 May 2021 saw a further two callouts in quick succession. The first followed reports of an overdue motor vessel with six persons on board last believed to have been in Loch na Droma Buidhe. The vessel's shore contact had been unable to make contact with the vessel and so called 999 to alert the Coastguard. Tobermory RNLI agreed to launch to investigate and found the motor boat and its occupants safe and well in Loch na Droma Buidhe where both VHF and mobile signal is poor.

Less than an hour after returning to Tobermory, the volunteer crew were requested to launch by the Coastguard in order to assess the situation of a 24 metre passenger vessel with nine passengers and four crew aboard - the third callout in 18 hours. The vessel had suffered engine failure two miles west of Lochaline in the Sound of Mull. The Coxswain assessed the situation and due to the number of passengers on board and the possibility that the vessel could become a navigation hazard, the decision was taken to pass a tow to the vessel.

The crew managed to pass a line to the vessel and began to tow her to the nearest safe and suitable port, escorted by a pod of dolphins. During the tow, the crew were able to get the vessel's engines started and so the tow was dropped and the lifeboat escorted the passenger vessel into Tobermory harbour. Tobermory RNLI's volunteer crew returned to their berth where the lifeboat was made ready for service before finally heading home for a much delayed Sunday lunch at around 5pm.

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Dr Sam Jones said 'This is shaping up to be a very busy season for the RNLI around the coasts of the UK and Ireland because of the increased numbers of people choosing to 'staycation'. Here at Tobermory, we have already had more call outs so far this year than we did in the whole of 2020.

'We would urge people to make sure that whilst enjoying the water, they have the right safety equipment and know how to call for help in an emergency. The crew of the overdue motor boat did everything right and by having a shore contact who contacted the Coastguard, we were able to ensure that they were safe and well. Although our crew had a busy 18 hours with three call outs, it was a bonus for them to be accompanied by dolphins on all three shouts.'

RNLI Media Contacts

For further information, please contact

Dr Sam Jones, Tobermory RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager and Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07747601900 or

Martin Macnamara, Regional Media Officer (Scotland), 07920 365929 or

Gemma McDonald, Regional Media Manager (Scotland), 07826 900639 or

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.