Broughty’s second year as busiest RNLI station

Crew members at RNLI Arbroath with the two guys rescued from their jet ski incident sitting at the front of the group, they areGavin Smith and Ben Thomason.
Crew members at RNLI Arbroath with the two guys rescued from their jet ski incident sitting at the front of the group, they areGavin Smith and Ben Thomason.

Broughty Ferry Lifeboat Station has been revealed as the busiest in Scotland following the release of RNLI statistics this week.

The figures released on Tuesday showed that Broughty Ferry’s lifeboat crew spent an incredible 638.52 man hours at sea in 2012, which included 472.01 hours on 103 call outs.

Their work enabled the rescue of 37 people, seven of whom were under the age of 18.

These statistics show Broughty to be the busiest station for the second consecutive year and over the past five years the crew has been on a total of 455 call outs, making them overall the busiest station in Scotland over that period.

During last year, the RNLI’s 46 Scottish stations responded to 1,008 shouts and in doing so saved the lives of 1,055 people.

Among those rescued last year were Ben Thomson and Gavin Smith who needed help after coming into difficulties while jet skiing out of Broughty Ferry in November.

The pair from Dundee were part of a group which had a near tragic run of bad luck.

Ben explained: “There were five of us out and we’d been in the water from 10.30 a.m. A series of events led up to the accident.”

Their jet skis suffered a number of mishaps, leaving the pair stranded out at sea, gradually drifting out to the Abertay Sands and the North Sea while their friends sought help.

The Broughty Ferry lifeboat was launched to help find them, along with a helicopter from RAF Boulmar, but poor conditions and the wrong coordinates made the search almost impossible.

Fortunately, as darkness fell Ben and Gavin encountered the Arbroath Lifeboat which was able to effect a rescue.

Ben explained: “We didn’t know Arbroath was out as well. Gavin saw the lights on the Arbroath boat and it was actually 200 metres from us. All we had left was a whistle so we started blowing to get their attention.

“It seemed like it took forever but the lifeboat eventually turned and came towards us.

“We found out later the only reason they found us was because there was a shout from the Aberdeen Coastguard and they couldn’t hear it over the radio so they turned the engines down.

“By the time Arbroath lifeboat picked us up we were in a really bad way. I just want to express my thanks to the crew as without them I don’t know if I would be here today.”

Arbroath coxswain Tommy Yule who was part of the crew which rescued Ben and Gavin had some advice for water users.

He said: “Since the new marina in Arbroath was built there has been an influx of pleasure craft and so more boats mean more faults and more call outs and more break downs.

“When you’re out there take care.

“The RNLI has got a safety team going round all the craft doing a safety check. Although they have no power of enforcement they will be able to tell you what equipment you need to go out on to the water safely.”

According to Tommy as an organisation wholly funded by charity it is important the RNLI receive public support.

He continued: “We always need donations, but the RNLI gives us the equipment we need to do the job.

“There’s no holding back from them, all the crews get special training in weather, first aid and boat handling.”

The RNLI regional operations manager for Scotland, Andy Clift, attributes the charity’s success this year to the hard work not only of their lifeboat crews but also their supporters.

He said: “The figures show that our volunteers dedicate a huge amount of their time to saving lives at sea.

“To know that they are on call 24/7, every day of the year, is reassuring for all of us who venture out to sea around the Scottish coast.

“They spent the equivalent of 643 days on service and on exercise and rescued a record number of people in Scotland in a year.

“But it’s not just our crew who are committed to our charity - they wouldn’t be able to carry out their lifesaving work without the incredible generosity of the public.

“I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all those who support the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.”