24 hours see Tobermory Lifeboat named one of Scotland’s busiest – and out on a shout to a distressed diver

Tobermory lifeboat Fri Ocean

The RNLI’s 2013 summer statistics have revealed that Tobermory RNLI was the busiest all-weather lifeboat station with one lifeboat in Scotland in the months of June, July and August. Over that period,  its volunteer crew launched 22 times.

According to figures released by the charity, Scotland-wide, there were more than five lifeboat launches a day during a busy summer for the lifeboats.

The total number of launches for June, July and August was 476 across Scotland’s 47 stations, just short of the record-breaking Summer of 2008 when there were 480 launches. There were 440 launches during the 2012 summer.
The busiest station in Scotland was Broughty Ferry in the First of Forth, with 43 launches for its two boats, compared with 23 the previous year.

Tobermory RNLI’s summer ‘shouts’ included a marathon 31 hour rescue mission in June to rescue a cargo ship  – the Fri Ocean, hard aground [above] in the Sound of Mull; as well as the rescue of a yacht in the early hours in difficult conditions off the Isle of Coll in August.

Tobermory RNLI Coxswain, Andrew McHaffie, praised the commitment of his volunteer crew, saying: ‘I’d like to pay tribute to the crew who drop everything at a moment’s notice to respond to their pagers.

‘This has been a busy summer for the station and many of the ‘shouts’ have been varied, challenging and complex, with some lasting several hours. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the partners, families, friends and employers of the volunteer crew. Without their unstinting support, it would be very difficult for us to launch the lifeboat to save lives at sea.’

Andy Clift, Scotland’s Regional Operations Manager, said, ‘A good summer on the weather front has turned into a busy one for our lifeboats in Scotland, with more people coming to enjoy the coast and sea. We would like to remind the public that some of the incidents undertaken by lifeboats could be avoided if they followed simple beach safety messages, adhered to warning signs, and checked tide tables.

‘We can not fault the professionalism and commitment of our volunteer crews who turn out at a moment’s notice 24/7 to help other people in distress, and this is particularly notable when we have long shouts in Scotland lasting several hours. One such shout was the distressing tragedy when the helicopter ditched near Shetland and our crews from Aith and Lerwick spent many hours helping other organisations to search for survivors, and recover wreckage.

‘I would also like to thank our dedicated supporters and fundraisers. Without their kind generosity and hard work we would not be able to equip and train our lifesavers or help so many people in trouble at sea.’

And then came the latest shout

Just 24 hours after being hailed as one of Scotland’s busiest lifeboat stations over the summer of 2013, Tobermory RNLI’s volunteer crew were paged at 16’27 today, Tuesday 24th September, to go to the aid of a diver with suspected decompression sickness – aka ‘the bends’.

The diver was transferred along with his dive ‘buddy’ directly from the dive boat onto Tobermory’s Severn class lifeboat, Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey, whilst she was still at her berth.

The lifeboat then proceeded at best speed to rendezvous with Oban lifeboat north of Lismore. Both divers were safely transferred to Oban lifeboat and taken to Oban where they were met by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Tobermory RNLI lifeboat returned back up the Sound of Mull to Tobermory where she was made ready for service at 1830.


Video of the Tobermory lifeboat’s rescue of a yacht in difficult conditions off the Isle of Coll in August can be found here.

The photograph at the head of this article – by Tobermory’s volunteer crew member, Dr Sam Jones, shows Tobermory RNLI’s Severn class lifeboat, Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey, assisting the cargo ship, Fri Ocean, which went aground on the east coast of the Isle of Mull.

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