Bob Proctor's rescue.
This is a small selection – there is more information in Newsletter 25.
Three yachtsmen and a lifeboatman were left clinging to a liferaft and rigging during a dramatic rescue off the Isle of Kerrera, Scotland, last month, ( October). The men had been on board the 40ft yacht, Classic Wave, which had grounded on a reef at the south-west tip of the island.
As the yacht was taking on water, Oban lifeboat transferred crewman Peter McKinnon aboard with a salvage pump. At first it looked like the pump was going to be able to cope with the job, but when it was overwhelmed by a huge volume of water it was decided to evacuate the crew. The lifeboat managed to rescue one of the yachtsmen, but given the Force 6 winds, swells and pitching rigging, coxswain Ronnie Mackillop decided another approach would be too dangerous. Instead he inflated the liferaft and passed the painter to one of the men on the yacht.
But at this point the yacht slipped off the rocks into deeper water and began to sink. Classic Wave’s skipper, Bob Hartley, had difficulty lining the liferaft up with the sinking vessel.
“They always say step down onto the liferaft,” he told PBO. “But it was impossible I literally floated off the deck into the water.”
Neither Bob(Hartley) nor his crewmate, Bob Proctor, was able to climb into the liferaft, despite having practised it in a pool on a sea-survival course. While they held onto the liferaft, Bob (H) found his oilskins were a great help. “I did suffer cold shock when I first entered the sea, but then my old Musto gear trapped the water and air, and gave me warmth and buoyancy”, he said.
The two men were recovered by the RNLI crew, but lifeboatman Peter McKinnon was left clinging to the rigging of the sinking yacht.
“Up until that point, I’d felt very calm,” said Bob (H), who was now safely on the lifeboat. But as he saw the crewman in the water he realised what a dangerous situation they were in.