Yesterday, 27th January, in heavy seas out in the Atlantic seven miles west of the Isle of Coll, the Tobermory lifeboat fought for eleven hours to rescue a fishing boat adrift with a broken gear box.
The lifeboat got a tow aboard the fishing boat and saw that tow twice break in the Storm Force 10 wind conditions, blowing up big seas.
In the third tow attempt, the lifeboat got the fishing bloat to Coll’s sister Isle of Tiree. There the tow was transferred to another boat, with the lifeboat riding shotgun to the tow.
But this wasn’t the end 0f it.
The tow broke and the seas took the fishing boat aground on rocks.
With great courage and skill in these conditions, the coxswain, Andrew McHaffie, manoeuvred the lifeboat close inshore and got another line onto the fishing boat.
Setting off then to tow the crippled fishing boat back to Tobermory, the bridle on her that takes the towing line broke.
Yet again, for the fifth tine in this long rescue, the lifeboat crew got another tow aboard her – and this one held, with the boat brought safely in to Tobermory.
This wasn’t just an eleven hour shout. This was working under profound pressure in very tough sea states, well offshore and in storm force winds, to save a boat and its crew – endlessly having to redo what had already been done, dealing with failure after failure in what can only have been a state of progressive exhaustion.
And they never gave up.
These volunteers – all the volunteers who man the lifesaving RNLI lifeboats in the service the public value so much they fund it themselves – are heroes day in, day out.
The Tobermory lifeboat, the Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey, is, like Campbeltown’s, a Severn class boat, the biggest in the RNLI fleet and designed to provide cover out to 50 miles offshore, at a top speed of 25 knots. She’s clearly in very good hands.