Forth Lifeboat in storm of calls

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LIFEBOAT crews manning the Forth have experienced their busiest month ever as they have been called to deal with everything from a whale in difficulties to stranded daytrippers.

The South Queensferry-based boat has been called out 13 times over the last month – the busiest period in its 41-year history.

It comes after the Royal National Lifeboat Institute said the crew has been called on 37 times this year, making it the single busiest in Scotland.

Summer weather explains the rise in the number of people using the water, but the RNLI is at a loss to explain the spike in rescues.

Speaking after the latest incident, in which a kayaker with a dislocated shoulder had to be plucked to safety in strong winds on Wednesday night, spokesman Hamish Campbell said the trend had come as a surprise to rescuers.

"In the last four weeks, there have been 13 call-outs and no-one's quite sure why that is," he said. "It's quite bizarre, never in 40 years have we had this many.

"But there's no obvious thing that's happening more, we're being called out to anything like the incident on Wednesday to things like engine failure, so no one thing can be to blame."

The team at South Queensferry consists of 16 male and three female volunteers. Other incidents this year requiring the attendance of a lifeboat include a man and his friend who had spent the day drinking on Cramond Island.

David Gardiner, 26, and 20-year-old Natasha Cameron were rescued in the nick of time after attempting to swim back to the mainland in strong currents.

Last week, two boys were told off by the Coastguard for sailing an inflatable dingy near Fidra Island in strong seas.

Off the Dunbar coast in June, a surfer fell asleep while lying on his surf board, causing a local parade to come to a halt and launch a rescue only to find he had woken up and made it back to shore.

On Sunday, a yacht sank in the Forth, and the lifeboat had to save seven crew members.

A spokesman for the Coastguard said that while people getting into difficulties through negligence was annoying, they could not afford to assess why people had ended up in the situation.

"It's not really for us to comment on because a rescue is a rescue and there's no different way to treat it," he said.

"Certainly it has been a busy time for us and we do receive a lot of calls from Cramond Island.

"The times of the tide are clearly marked and our number is there, perhaps people just go across and lose track of time.

"We would say that drinking and sailing are definitely a no-go, not only because it inhibits decision making and reaction time, but because if you're underwater you go down a lot quicker with alcohol inside you."


Some of the incidents which lifeboat crews have responded to over the last month:

&#149 A kayaker as part of a group who sustained a dislocated shoulder had to be rescued near Inchcolm island.

&#149 A six-year-old boy gashed his head after falling from rocks on Inchcolm Island and had to be rushed ashore.

&#149 Two yachts experienced engine failure and had to be towed ashore, while another ran aground at Cramond.

&#149 Call-outs to people stranded on Cramond Island.

&#149 A whale in difficulties at Limekilns in Fife.

&#149 A speedboat which lost a propeller.