Helicopter evacuation in Force 6 near Stornoway

A dramatic rescue took place yesterday in difficult conditions off north west Scotland.

The skipper of a sailing yacht reported that it had lost its rudder and was close inshore, requiring immediate assistance.

The yacht, with two adults and two young children onboard, had also fired two distress flares which were seen by people ashore. The witnesses made a 999 call to the Coastguard.

Stornoway Coastguard relayed the Mayday and a fishing vessel five miles away responded. Lochinver RNLI lifeboat and the Coastguard helicopter R100 from Stornoway were scrambled to the incident.

Once on scene the Coastguard helicopter carried out a hi-line transfer and evacuated the family from the yacht.

Due to the poor weather conditions – Force 6 with a 2-4m swell – the lifeboat was unable to get a line to the yacht and returned to base. However the fishing vessel was able to wait for the weather to abate, and towed the yacht safely back to Gairloch.

A Coastguard spokesman commended the skipper for being well-equipped with life saving apparatus.