Maritime students help Mallaig Harbour Authority in yacht rescue

Three Maritime students were called to support Mallaig Harbour Authority when a boat lost engine power as a storm approached.

Recently, three Maritime students were receiving training on the college’s training RIB, Levanto, from Carl Haberl, our RYA Training Centre Chief Instructor when they were called upon to support the local Harbour Authority.

Caiden Fairlie and Liam Morrison are studying  Shipping and Maritime Operations SCQF Level 6 and Alexander Macdonnell is studying the NQ Aquaculture, Marine and Maritime Skills SCQF Level 5.  All have just started their courses in Mallaig in August and all have family members with local connections to the sea. Caiden’s mum studied a maritime course at the college a few years ago. 

At lunchtime, they received a call from the Mallaig Harbour Authority CEO to ask if they would be prepared to go out and help a yacht into the harbour, having lost engine power three miles from Mallaig. A storm was due to arrive later in the afternoon. The students were new to the boat and had only practised that morning.  

The staff made a careful assessment of the conditions and decided to head out towards the yacht to see how they could be of assistance. The students helmed the boat out to the yacht which ended up being 4 miles out in the Sound of Sleat. When the vessel was located, the college staff and student crew were surprised to see the solo sailor taking his sails down on his 43-foot yacht, obviously expecting a tow into the harbour. The crew shouted across to ask if he was able to sail into the harbour with the training boat tracking him nearby, but the sailor was clearly needing a tow.

The college crew started setting up the tow, keeping in touch with the Mallaig Harbour Authority and always with the option of calling out the RNLI if the situation became overly complex. 

Carl commented, “the students were brilliant. One of the them kept the boat steady with some careful control in choppy conditions keeping close to the yacht whilst another helped me rig a tow rope and a bridle at the stern of our training rib. The third student was keeping track of time and monitoring the weather and sea conditions and getting other equipment that we may need, as we did not want to expose ourselves to any unnecessary risk. 

After about 15 minutes we were rigged and starting to tow. Thankfully, the sea conditions were kind for a tow of this nature and the students kept the boat steady at 4 knots all the way back to Mallaig. Alexander was keeping Mallaig Harbour Authority CEO (who happened to be his mum) informed of progress. Once in harbour Liam guided the yacht carefully to a pontoon berth whilst still on tow and Alexander and Caiden helped secure the yacht alongside.” 

The yacht skipper was very grateful and the Harbour Authority very kindly had some gifts for the students on our return to the college. 

Carl continued, “I was very impressed with the skills and ingenuity shown by these students after very little boating experience and training on our RIB. They were a credit to themselves and their lecturers Tommy Dunn and Shaun Escott ,as well as Jane Henderson, Centre Manager and RYA Training Centre Principal. Their reaction to this situation certainly bodes well for their future after they finish their studies.” 

Find out more about our NQ Aquaculture Marine and Maritime Skills SCQF 5 (Mallaig) course which starts this January.