Author: Dan Holland
RNLI Kessock volunteers last night (Thursday 18 June) spent 7 hours on 2 separate shouts going to the aid of a fishing vessel that had run aground 1 mile east of The Kessock Bridge, followed by a search for a missing person.
?The volunteer crew were first alerted to the grounding at 6.30pm when their pagers sounded. There was already a full crew at the lifeboat station doing some training when the alarm was raised. In flat calm conditions and no wind the volunteer crew were able to launch the Atlantic 85 class lifeboat, Robert and Isobel Mowat, very quickly and make their way to the fishing vessel.
The Marigold had earlier in the day made her way up Loch Ness, through the Caledonian Canal and Muirton Basin before transiting the sea lock at Clachnaharry and continuing her journey out through The Beauly Firth en route to Arbroath.
With 2 hours still to go before the spring low tide the 56ft and 55 tonne wooden vessel suffered steering failure and ran aground about 1 mile east of The Kessock Bridge near the Meikle Mee navigation buoy. Arriving on the scene, volunteer helmsman Dougie Grant quickly established that there were no injuries to the 2 crew but that there wasn’t enough water to try and safely refloat the Marigold. With her crew safe and still on board, Dougie Grant and his 3 other crew helped deploy the fishing boats anchor and kept the lifeboat alongside to wait for the tide to rise. No damage had been sustained by the grounding.
The 2 crew of ?Marigold provided the RNLI volunteers with food and hot drinks while they sat alongside monitoring the situation.
Helmsman Dougie Grant said: ‘My worry was that with the weight of the boat and list she had while aground she may have inflicted serious damage on herself, by bursting one of her planks. So we had the pump ready to start clearing any ingress of water to the casualty vessel should that happen’
Following a change of crew at 10pm the lifeboat was launched again to go back to the scene. With the still favourable conditions and rising tide the Marigold was fully afloat again at 10.45pm. The lifeboat and crew took the Marigold into an alongside tow to provide steering and both vessels made their way to Inverness Harbour where the fishing boat was safely secured.
On the passage back to the harbour Helmsman Stan Macrae noted: ‘Trying to steer both boats with the incoming tide felt a bit like we were dodging torpedoes rather than going in a straight line!’
The RNLI crew returned to the lifeboat station at 11.35pm.
At 11.36pm at the request of Police Scotland, Aberdeen Coastguard tasked the same crew to start conducting a search of the shoreline for a missing person. In good searching condtions the volunteer crew were able to cover from Kilmuir to Charleston easily. Nothing was found during this search and the crew were stood down at 12.50am
Nearly 7 hours after the first alarm was raised at 6.30pm the previous evening the second crew were back ashore and the lifeboat made ready for the next service call by 1.30am.