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Largs RNLI launch in challenging weather conditions

Lifeboats News Release

Largs RNLI launched on Thursday (8 February 2024) in deteriorating weather conditions to aid a sailing boat in difficulties on the west side of Cumbrae.

RNLI Largs lifeboat launch (stock image)

RNLI/Nick Mailer

RNLI Largs lifeboat launch (stock image)

One of the volunteer helms at Largs RNLI had been following a Pan- Pan request made by a 46-foot sailing yacht who had suffered engine failure while travelling from Tarbert to Largs. With no vessels in the area able to provide assistance and weather conditions continuing to deteriorate, the vessel was quickly heading into a dangerous position and would be in need of help.

After speaking with HM Coastguard, the pagers of the volunteer crew were activated for a ‘Crew Assemble’. This allowed the crew to assemble at the lifeboat station and assess the weather conditions and sea state to determine if a launch was viable and safe in the conditions.

The risks were fully assessed and the decision was taken to launch before the casualty vessel lost the relative shelter being provided by Great Cumbrae from the strong easterly winds.

The volunteers at Largs RNLI launched their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat into the rough sea and proceeded at a safe speed to the last known location of the casualty vessel. As the lifeboat arrived on scene, it was initially challenging to locate the sailing boat due to the sea state, with the casualty vessel being further north than originally thought.

Assessing the situation, the helm of Largs lifeboat asked for the launch of the Troon All Weather lifeboat (ALB). Due to the size of the casualty vessel and the deteriorating conditions, with winds in excess of 50 knots, it was determined Largs lifeboat would be unable to safely tow the vessel to a place of safety.

The casualty vessel was directed to move into a more protected area allowing for a volunteer crew member Largs to put on board and further assess the situation, while awaiting the arrival of Troon’s Trent Class ALB.

Troon ALB arrived on scene shortly before 8pm where they prepared to tow the casualty vessel. Largs lifeboat utilised the manoeuvrability of the Atlantic 85 and transferred a crew member from Troon lifeboat onto the casualty vessel and recovered the Largs crew member back onto the lifeboat.

The coxswain of Troon lifeboat, a relief coxswain from Buckie, was unfamiliar with Largs Yacht Haven and due to the weather conditions and sea state made, the decision the safest option would be to take the casualty vessel to Troon.

Handing the casualty vessel into the safe hands of the volunteers at Troon, Largs lifeboat embarked on a slow and arduous journey back to the lifeboat station where it was cleaned, refuelled and made ready for service.

Brian Rankin, helm at Largs RNLI, said: ‘This was a shout in very challenging weather conditions and my thanks go to all of the volunteer crew involved, both on the lifeboat and ashore, for their professionalism, commitment and resilience. It was a great effort by all.

‘Shouts like this highlight the importance of training in all conditions and having good local knowledge of the area.

‘Teamwork is crucial both during the shout while on the lifeboat and also during the launch and recovery process. We really are one crew.

‘Our thanks to our colleagues from Troon for their assistance with their All Weather Lifeboat which proved invaluable in the challenging conditions.

‘If you get into difficulty at sea or along the coast, or spot someone else in trouble, always dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

RNLI media contacts

Claire McRae, Lifeboat Press Officer, 07738681546, [email protected]

Brian Rankin, Lifeboat Press Officer, 07810862468, [email protected]

Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 07826 900639, [email protected]

Martin MacNamara, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 07920 365929, [email protected]

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789

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.