Sail training vessel with Dutch warship ‘Friesland’ standing by (Credit RNLI/Robert N MacLeod)
Author: Dr Sam Jones, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer
Tobermory lifeboat rushed to the aid of a 70 foot sail training vessel with eleven youngsters and five crew on board in rough seas off the Isle of Iona on 26 April 2012.
The Tobermory all weather lifeboat, Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey, launched at 1010 to the 58 tonne sail training vessel whose propeller and rudder had become snagged in lobster creel ropes off the south coast of Iona. On arriving at the scene, the RNLI volunteer crew found that the Royal Netherlands Navy newly commissioned warship, Friesland, was attempting to assist the training yacht which was struggling in the two metre swell. The Tobermory lifeboat managed to pass a tow to the stricken vessel bringing it into the wind and enabling it to be cut free from the creel ropes. The Tobermory lifeboat then towed the sail training vessel and crew and 11 youngsters aboard more than 30 miles in rough seas to the safety of the marina at the Isle of Kerrera, near Oban.
When the Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey returned to Tobermory, the crew had not only spent more than ten hours at sea and travelled just under 100 miles but had also circumnavigated the Isle of Mull.
On arrival back at Tobermory, Deputy Second Coxswain Andrew McHaffie said: ‘When we launched this morning we expected this to be a routine towing operation. However, when we arrived on scene we were confronted not only with very challenging conditions with a two metre swell but we were also very aware that there were young people on board the sail training vessel in rough seas. It was vital that we got the vessel under tow as quickly as possible. This was a long rescue but with a very successful outcome. We’d like to thank the crew of the Dutch warship Friesland for their assistance.’