Lifeboat crew assist when the Sea Witch gets tangled

Maritime artist Claudia Myatt is sailing from Inverness to Ipswich on board Alistair Randall’s
Sea Witch as part of the Old Gaffer’s Association (OGA) Round Britain

On the second day of her crewmanship they had to be rescued by the
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) after getting tangled up with a lobster buoy line.

In yesterday’s blog, Claudia writes: ‘We left Whitehills at 1400 when there was enough tide to get out of the harbour.

‘We sailed for a short while but the wind dropped and went on
the nose so we motored. As we approached Fraserburgh I suddenly noticed a
lobster buoy right on the bow.

‘It was quite a large buoy and with no
time to do anything I hoped that it would bump down the side but I had
reckoned without the 25 foot pickup line with small buoys on it that was
hidden in the waves and partly dragged under by the tide which wrapped
itself firmly round the propellor and stopped the engine.

‘We got the
sail down as the wind was pushing us around and then assessed the
situation. We appeared to be dragging towards the shore, although that
turned out to be us just taking up the slack.

‘Cutting the rope was not
an option as it was deep down and in any case we would then have been at
the mercy of the tide.

‘I called the Coastguard to advise them of our
situation and before long they informed us that they had called out the
Lifeboat from Fraserburgh.’

The Lifeboat crew quickly responded and soon had the rope cut and the old gaffer under tow back to Fraserburgh.

Beer fund donation for volunteers

Claudia said: ‘They got us moored against one of the
fishing quays and the coxswain was volunteering to put on his dry suit
to dive on the propellor when they noticed some commercial divers just
finishing up on the quay.

‘The next thing we knew a man in a space suit
with umbilicals was being lifted into the water in a cage by a giant

‘He freed the prop and then spent a lot longer under water, as it
turned out inspecting the hull. His manager appeared and presented us
with a DVD as one of the umbilicals was a camera feed.

‘There was no
charge but we gave a generous donation to their beer fund. We went to
the RNLI station and chatted with the crew who were a great bunch.’

The survey showed that the tip of one of the propellor blades was
slightly bent and the crew had already found that the variable pitch prop was
stuck in forward.

Claudia adds: ‘We left Fraserburgh at 0400 to catch the tide and had a
brisk sail round to Peterhead where Howard from Bonify was waiting on
the pontoon to help us stop (no reverse gear means no brakes).

‘We tried to find somewhere to dry out to dismantle the prop but the tide
was wrong and it couldn’t be done.

‘We had a social day with visits from
old friends from Aberdeen and then had a social in the early evening
with Bonify, Windflower and Silver Bear.’

Today the crew of Witch ‘will try to get off the pontoon’ and then intend to do a long hop to Eyemouth.

Handy web links

Read more from the Sea Witch crew blog

See the latest positions of the OGA challengers

Find out about the OGA 50th anniversary plans at

Pictures show the Sea Witch being towed by the RNLI lifeboat; Claudia Myatt at the helm; and the RNLI volunteers in action.