'It's a lot of resource going to rescue two guys out fishing in the middle of a storm'

Rescue leaders whose volunteer teams were called out in Storm Aiden are urging people not to risk lives and to think twice before heading for the water.

Oban Lifeboat racing through the storm. Picture: Moira Kerr
Oban Lifeboat racing through the storm. Picture: Moira Kerr

Jim Williams, station officer of the remote Ross of Mull Coastguard Team and Oban RNLI Lifeboat Coxswain Ally Cerexhe, made the appeal after call outs in horrendous weather.

Oban lifeboat launched in gale force winds and driving rain on Saturday afternoon to help four anglers whose fishing boat had broken down in Loch Etive.

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While the lifeboat was taking the men to safety, three coastguard teams and a helicopter were called to assist two visitors, who were stranded while fishing on an uninhabited island, off the Ross of Mull.

Mr Williams described conditions as horrendous when his volunteers, along with coastguard teams from Craignure and Tobermory, were called to the scene along with a Coastguard helicopter.

He said: "Three coastguard teams and a helicopter were called out at a time when Stornoway Coastguard were dealing with another four incidents, it's a lot of resources going in to two guys going out fishing

in the middle of a storm.

"I would say, do not put yourself at risk during a storm to go fishing and always check the tides before you do anything.”

Describing what happened, Mr Williams said: "The island is a substantial bit of rock, about 100ft square

which you can walk to at low tide.

"Two men, who were staying at a holiday cottage with their aunt, had gone fishing there and got stranded when the tide came in. There were 60 mph winds, it was horrendous and their aunt phoned 999."

The men, who had waterproofs on, had lit a fire on the island, which triggered off a flurry of other 999 calls when islanders saw the flames.

Mr Williams said: "We were called out - 16 of us in three coastguard teams - to see if we could assist . It was about an hour before high tide and we could only have got to them at low tide, and it was dark, so the helicopter went and picked them up and took them to Mull to their holiday cottage. They were OK."

Meanwhile Oban lifeboat crew were braving heavy seas and winds gusting 60mph to rescue four anglers and tow their boat, which had broken down west of Airds Point, in Loch Etive.

As the bad weather continued yesterday Oban lifeboat coxswain Ally Cerexhe said: "Please take extra care when visiting the coast and think twice about heading out on the water in these conditions.

"Although the lochs may appear to provide some shelter, the strong winds and high tides still pose the same risk. If you do see anyone in difficulty remember to call 999 and ask for the coastguard."

Stornoway Coastguard dealt with calls from all over the west coast on Saturday, with numerous reports of drifting vessels.

An emergency beacon sounded on a boat in Loch Bracadale, Skye, prompting the call out of Portree Lifeboat and an island coastguard team. However, the owner was traced and confirmed no-one was on board.

The police called the coastguard for assistance in closing Braighe causeway, Stornoway and coastguard teams were also called to close causeways at Eriskay and Stinky Bay, North Uist.

There were also reports of a drifitng vessel at Loch Duich, by Kyle of Lochalsh, with no-one on board yesterday when the landing craft,Tiffany of Melfort ,was still believed to be drifting in the Minch after breaking free from a mooring at Loch Pooltiel, Skye, on Saturday.

In Oban the waves were so high on Saturday night that St Columba's Cathedral put a message out to tell worshippers that it was too dangerous to venture there for mass.

Across the road from the cathedral part of the roof came off the Lancaster Hotel, while a tree crashed down onto the gable end of a house in another part of the tourist town. No-one was injured in the incidents.