The RNLI lifeboat at Kinghorn had to battle through Gale Force winds and stormy seas to rescue four stranded visitors to Crammond Island on the May Bank Holiday.
Around 3.30pm on Sunday (06/05/07) the volunteer crew were alerted to the plight of the four by the Coastguard. Queensferry lifeboat who usually deal with calls to Crammond Island were already searching for a person believed in the water to the west of the Forth Road Bridge.
Scott McIlravie, the helmsman on the mission said, "We were called to take 4 tourists off Cramond Island. We launched into a full Gale Force 8 westerly wind and made slow, but heavy progress towards Incholm island. The waves were so steep, and the wind so strong that I couldn't risk taking the sea anything other than head on until I was closer to the relative shelter of Inchcolm island and the narrower Forth area. Whilst sitting off the east side of Incholm we were able to establish communications with the local coastguard team, on the shore opposite Cramond, and decided that attempting to land on the exposed beaches on the Western side would be too dangerous in the conditions, so I took the lifeboat to the eastern side of the island."
He continued, "I put Neil Chalmers (crewman) ashore to round up the four (two men from Poland and two women from South Africa) and he brought them down to a rocky outcrop beside the causeway. The wind was blowing round the island so I was unable to nose in to the rocks and hold the lifeboat there safely, especially as it was still blowing around a F6/7 in the area, so I had to bring the lifeboat in with its shoulder onto a boulder that was a hop away from shore, where Neil would (almost literally) throw the people onto the bow of the lifeboat, helped by Brian Paton in the boat. I would then have to reverse off before I would be blown sideways onto the rocky outcrop, whilst Neil prepared the next person, and then we'd start all over."
"We evacuated the four, plus Neil, from the island and took them to Granton, as it was travelling with the sea and was a safer ride for the passengers. Our trip home from Granton to Kinghorn was very wet, but less physically demanding than the original journey to Inchcolm."
Crew on this occasion included Brian Paton, with Norman Soutar and Ian McLean on the tractor, and Mark Brown giving shore support. Wind was Gale Force 8 off Kinghorn, about F6/7 at Cramond, Westerly with very heavy seas, gusts and poor visibility in the spray.