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Congratulations for Cara passing out as Islay RNLI coxswain

Lifeboats News Release

On 11 October 2022 Cara McEachern completed her final assessment to become a fully qualified lifeboat coxswain for the RNLI. An Islay native, Cara stands as the only currently serving female coxswain of an all-weather lifeboat in Scotland.

RNLI/Kate Hannett

Cara is Scotland's only serving female coxswain of an all-weather lifeboat.

Cara joined the Islay RNLI volunteer crew in 2006 aged 17, she modestly says: ‘With my family always being involved it just seemed natural to join the crew as soon as I could. It was before I had even passed my driving test!’. The McEachern family have a long association with the Islay RNLI since it was first established on the island. Before her, Cara’s grandfather Willie was a full-time mechanic on the Islay crew. Her uncle Neil is a serving coxswain, Cara’s father, Islay, is the lifeboat operations manager overseeing the station, and her mother Christine holds a long-standing role as the local RNLI charity’s fundraising guild treasurer.

While she might not be one for the limelight Cara has racked up impressive statistics in the 16 years she’s been involved; launching 117 times on incident with a further 200 exercise launches. This makes for a total of over 763 hours at sea,168 people aided, and seven lives saved.

Thinking back on her time so far in the RNLI Cara recalls her most memorable shout: ‘It was to a boat way out near Skerryvore lighthouse in the new year. The boat was taking on water, and we had to get the salvage pump over to them to stop the boat going down. We somehow managed but was a long night in rough weather towing them back in, I think we were out for about 18 hours.’.

The rescue was on 04 January 2008, the crew were out for 18 hours in a six-metre swell with breaking waves in excess of 20 feet and heavy hail showers. The crew towed the vessel the 44 miles to safety for which they received awards for seamanship and outstanding teamwork from the RNLI.

As well as being one of five coxswains in the crew Cara is a qualified sea-going casualty carer and navigator. When the crew find themselves out on a shout Cara can often be found in the role of navigating the lifeboat through our west coast seas. However, under the persuasion of Islay’s full-time Coxswain, David MacLellan, Cara decided to take on the rigorous training to become coxswain. David says: ‘Everyone at Islay RNLI wishes to pass on congratulations to Cara on the undertaking and successful completion of her training. She is a fabulous asset to the crew and we are all proud that she has achieved this milestone in becoming coxswain.’.

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.