Lifeboats launched to rescue grounded trawler at Kylerhea Narrows

A RESCUE effort involving lifeboats and aircraft was launched after a fishing trawler ran aground at the Kylerhea Narrows.

Both Kyle and Mallaig RNLI volunteers and a UK Coastguard helicopter were called after the 22 metre vessel, with a crew of seven on board, ran aground on rocks off Kylerhea on Tuesday 16 January.

Kyle lifeboat Spirit of Fred. Olsen was launched in a snowstorm and was the first to arrive on scene at 6:00pm.

On arrival, the stranded vessel was on the rocks and was listing slightly to port. However, the crew members on board were all accounted for and uninjured.

Grounded trawler
The Kylerhea Narrows are notorious for their tides, which can make traversing them difficult

A UK Coastguard helicopter from Inverness was also dispatched. However, upon arriving on scene, it was deemed that there was no more danger to the crew, so the aircraft returned to base.

There were fears of a capsize as the notorious tide in the narrows was coming in rapidly, moving and pivoting the vessel around the rock and forcing the boat hard aground.

The fishing vessel’s crew readied its life raft and prepared to abandon ship. The lifeboat could not get alongside the trawler, but stood by to rescue any fishermen who entered the water.

The Mallaig lifeboat then arrived on scene at 6:30pm, and a couple of minutes later the tide rose sufficiently that the trawler began to level off and then came off of the rocks.

Due to the nature of the grounding, the crew decided to go to the nearest port – in Mallaig – so that the vessel could be inspected for damage.

Mallaig lifeboat shadowed the boat back to harbour to ensure its safe arrival, and Kyle lifeboat returned to station.

Jonathon MacKinnon, RNLI Helm for Kyle’s Lifeboat, said: “This was a rapidly evolving situation which became extremely serious when the tide began to force the vessel over.

“There was the potential for it to go wrong quite quickly, so it was a relief to see the vessel float free 20 minutes later.”

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, or RNLI, is a charity dedicated to saving lives at sea.

Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts.

The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands.