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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution - Saves Lives at Sea



The RNLI lifeboat at Kinghorn had yet another busy weekend of calls.

The weekend started in fine style on Friday night (09/09/05) when the crew were called out to a disabled vessel, "Southern Swap" a 22 foot steel Ketch weighing around 4 tons.

Mike McErlane a helmsman on the RNLI lifeboat at Kinghorn said, "The owner from Germany, had no mechanical propulsion due to being a sail only vessel, had decided that in such bad weather that was prevailing at the time, that he had had enough and anchored just south of Inchkeith. He tried to cajole a passing fishing vessel for a tow, but they were justly concerned given the weather conditions to try and attempt such a feat. However they contacted the Coastguard who called out the lifeboat."

Due to the size of the vessel , the inshore lifeboat requested the assistance of the all weather RNLI lifeboat, Kingdom of Fife from Anstruther to carry out the tow. Kinghorn lifeboat stood by the stricken vessel until the arrival of the Kingdom of Fife, thereafter checking the way to Granton was clear and a berthing place was available within Granton Harbour. However the Kinghorn lifeboat had their own small emergency with the loss of a gearbox on one of her two engines resulting in completing the service call in the poor conditions on only one engine.

Mike continued, " It was quite blowy and the seas were quite rough. Going down to only one engine gives us less than half our normal speed and makes manoeuvres a bit more difficult. We would normally reverse onto the trailer and let the tractor pull us out the water, but with the size of the breaking waves we were being buffeted without our other engine, so we had to revert to our net recovery procedure which means we drive straight onto the trailer and are caught in a net which stops the waves from throwing us over the top of the tractor! Unfortunately we then have to turn the boat around by hand and this takes quite a bit of time. We later found out that the man had sailed from Norway with his dog and only a hand held GPS to guide him, he is intending to sail to Australia via Glasgow and the Caribbean! he might just find worse weather than he faced on Friday night on his travels......" Other members of the crew on this occasion were Steve Curry and Paul Wibberly.

Around 6.25am on Sunday (11/09/05) the volunteer crew were rudely awaken from their beds on what should have been the day of rest. The crew were tasked to attend at Inverkeithing Bay where there was a report of a 15 foot dinghy on fire. Although Police Fire and Coastguard personnel were on the shore, viewing the incident, they were unable to reach the dinghy. The crew of Kinghorn lifeboat arrived on the scene and after towing the boat to the shore, a deft manoeuvre with the engine propeller by Helmsman Mike McErlane managed to spray the boat with sufficient sea water to extinguish the blaze. It was later discovered that a local boat club had been broken into and the fire had resulted from that.

The crews' work was still not complete however, when on their return from the latter call around 7.40am they were tasked to attend another vessel in distress just off Cockenzie Power Station. This call had been phoned into the coastguard from a concerned member of the public who saw that the vessel was drifting with no power and one man on board.

Mike continued, " the vessel, "Tasmania", a small Shetland fishing boat about 20 feet in length had lost his engine power and was without an anchor. The man, a local from Bonnyridge, had been drifting all night and we towed him into Port Seton Harbour." the other volunteer crewmen on these occasions were Darren Maddison and Andy Preston.