Donate now

Longhope RNLI lifeboat emerges from maintenance and responds to dinghy's aid

Lifeboats News Release

After undergoing a period of routine maintenance in Inverness, the RNLB Helen Comrie returned home, displaying its dedication to maritime safety by providing support to a dinghy capsized in the wind.

RNLI/Alan Mackinnon

RNLB Helen Comrie pre-scrub, being lifted from the water

On 10 April 2024, at 5am, the Longhope RNLI lifeboat RNLB Helen Comrie embarked on a journey to Inverness for a scheduled annual maintenance period. The vessel was manned by Scott Johnston (Coxswain), Kevin Kirkpatrick (Coxswain), Ian Avis (Coxswain/Mechanic), Steve Rhodes (Trainee Coxswain) and Alan Mackinnon (Trainee Navigator) and completed a five-hour passage to reach its destination.

RNLB Helen Comrie was craned out of the water before undergoing a bottom scrub, anti-foul re-paint and other maintenance tasks. The whole procedure took no more than twenty-four hours, during which time Longhope RNLI was off service with emergency cover provided by our flanking stations at Stromness and Thurso RNLI Lifeboat Stations.

By 2pm, the lifeboat was back in the water and en route to Longhope when, just south of Chanonry Point, the volunteer crew spotted a small dinghy capsized in the water. The lifeboat approached, offering assistance to the two-man crew, who were having difficulty righting their dinghy due to the wind. The crew requested shelter from the lifeboat and we were happy to oblige. Fortunately, our efforts were captured by a passerby, 'Fortrose Bravo' whose Facebook handle relates to his original call sign, as an Immediate Response Team Member in Fortrose, who happened to be out and about and shot a video of the event.

Once the dinghy was righted, RNLB Helen Comrie carried on towards Longhope, arriving home at approximately 6pm, where the lifeboat was refuelled and made ready for service.

Coxswain Scott Johnston says: ‘It is situations such as this that can so easily end in disaster. However, on this occasion, the crew of the dinghy had all the necessary safety and communication equipment that they required, and so it was just opportune that we happened to be passing and were able to provide a helping hand by shielding them from the wind. But it goes without saying that, should anyone find themselves in a situation where they are in trouble at sea, they should dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

Notes to editors

· Longhope lifeboat station has been operating since 1874 and celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2024. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to: Longhope Lifeboat Station (

RNLI media contacts

Vicky Mackinnon, Lifeboat Press Officer, 07703 688066, [email protected]

Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Communications Manager for Scotland, 07826 900639, [email protected]

Tom McGuire, RNLI Regional Communications Manager for Scotland and Ireland, 00353 87 476 4436, [email protected]

Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Communications Lead for Scotland, 07920 365929, [email protected]

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789

RNLI/Alan Mackinnon

RNLB Helen Comrie Post-Scrub and Paint

RNLI/Alan Mackinnon

RNLB Helen Comrie Post-Scrub and Paint

RNLI/Alan Mackinnon

RNLB Helen Comrie being lowered into the water post-scrub and paint

RNLI/Fortrose Bravo

RNLB Helen Comrie provides shelter to yacht

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.