Busy period for Tobermory RNLI as dolphins help come to the rescue

Lifeboats News Release

Tobermory RNLI’s volunteers have had a busy with four call outs in the last week with dolphins ‘assisting’ in three of them.

A crew member can be seen working on the boat with a dolphin swimming in the sea in the background.

David McHaffie

Tobermory RNLI crew member, Edd Hewitt, being photo bombed by a dolphin.

On Thursday 8 September 2022, the UK Coastguard requested Tobermory RNLI’s Severn class lifeboat to respond to a report from a crew member on the Tobermory/Kilchoan ferry who had sighted a drifting paddle board by Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

On arrival at the scene, the lifeboat and other vessels carried out an extensive search with the lifeboat being accompanied by a pod of dolphins. Enquiries were also made at the local campsites. After there was nothing seen and it was established that there were no local reports of any missing persons, the lifeboat crew and search teams were stood down by the UK Coastguard.

The following day, Tobermory lifeboat station was made aware of a yacht in Loch na Droma Buidhe where no one had been seen for three days. After a discussion between the UK Coastguard, the station coxswain and the lifeboat operations manager, a decision was taken to launch the lifeboat to investigate. After inspecting the yacht and searching the immediate area (again with the assistance of dolphins) and with no reports of a missing person, the lifeboat was stood down and returned to Tobermory.

At lunchtime on Tuesday 13 September 2022, Tobermory’s volunteer crew went to the aid of four people whose yacht had gone aground on rocks near Drimnin. As the yacht had grounded two hours before low water, the four crew were recovered to the lifeboat whilst the yacht was made secure. The lifeboat returned to the lifeboat station where the yacht’s crew received some traditional RNLI hospitality via the station kettle. The lifeboat then launched again at 16:00 to return to the yacht where it was refloated with the skipper aboard. Once it had been established that there was no damage or water ingress, the lifeboat crew towed the yacht to Tobermory harbour.

Tobermory RNLI’s volunteer crew was paged again 24 hours later following the report of two wing foilers who had become becalmed whilst sailing from Tiree to Iona. The wing foilers were well equipped with designated contacts ashore. The wing foilers were found about 1.5 nautical miles west of Iona. Once again, dolphins were in support of the lifeboat with volunteer crew member Edd Hewitt even being ‘photo bombed’ by a bottlenose dolphin.

Station Coxswain David McHaffie said: ‘This has been a busy few days for our volunteers and I’d like to thank their families and employers for their support. Our first two call outs were false alarms with good intent and we would always encourage anyone who sees anything unusual to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. We’re also pleased that both the yacht and its crew were unharmed in the grounding at Drimnin. The wing foilers were very well equipped and not only had a contact ashore but also had set up a tracker and informed the UK Coastguard of their intentions. This made our search in such a large area a lot easier’.

David continued: ‘We had support from a number of vessels and Coastguard Rescue Teams during these call outs but I’d particularly like to thank the crew member on the MV Loch Tarbet ferry for raising the alarm about the paddle board and the master and crew of the Iona ferry MV Loch Buie who offered assistance and passed on their local knowledge during the wing foil search. We’d also like to thank the master of the ferry MV Clansman for reducing its wake during our service to the grounded yacht. Finally we’d all like to thank the dolphins who kept company with us this week’.

RNLI media contact

Dr Sam Jones, Lifeboat Operations Manager and Lifeboat Press Officer, 07747 601900, [email protected]

A pod of dolphins can be seen swimming alongside the boat.

David McHaffie

The crew were greeted by dolphins on their shout.

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.