Sunday, January 30, 2011

Seconds from disaster?

Having been a yachtsman on the west coast of Scotland in the past, I'm a great admirer of the work of the RNLI. Hence I was a bit disappointed to see that their advertising agents appear to have been indulging in a bit of what I might call "tabloid" advertising techniques:-

Of course, the yacht is not sinking any more than the lifeboat is - it's just the swell obscuring parts of the respective craft. So unless there's a jagged reef of rock just yards out of view to the left of the yacht, it is manifestly not "seconds from disaster".

The blurb on the back of this flyer says:-

Twenty miles off the coast, in Force 9 gales, high waves and poor visibility, the sailing yacht Galasma's engine and electrics failed. Those on board could do nothing but hope for rescue. RNLI lifeboat crews battled the gale for a gruelling 10 hours, before bringing them safely home.

Let's analyse that.

Twenty miles off the coast, your engine and electrics fail. Well it's a yacht, could you not hoist your sails? Whatever, you're not "seconds from disaster" and it's not the case that you can do "nothing but hope for rescue". That's a criticism of the crew of the yacht of course, not the RNLI. But that photo doesn't look to me like a Force 9 gale - high waves and poor visibility, admittedly, but not Force 9. I really hesitate before accusing the RNLI of a direct lie, but the bit about "battling for 10 gruelling hours" to rendezvous with a sailing yacht, albeit with no engine or electrics but still floating upright and apparently with its mast and rigging all in place just doesn't ring true to me if that photo's anything to go by.

I'm going to give the RNLI - and its advertising agency - the benefit of the doubt and say they probably put the wrong story with the photo and the reality was something more like that the lifeboat was called out to take a casualty off a perfectly seaworthy craft.

Lifeboat at Castlebay, Barra - 2003


  1. Had a ride in the Castlebay lifeboat a couple of years ago :) Lovely boat and great crew.

    Paddled down to Pabbay as part of what was supposed to be a week long trip around the Bishops Isles only to get stormbound for 6 days and had to agree to be evacuated by the lifeboat when it was out on a scheduled training run. Had to bung a fisherman a few hundred quid to lift the kayaks off some days later. Good trip, excellent company, good whisky and gorgeously sunny days - just the damn wind

  2. The photo captioned "seconds from disaster" was taken in the relatively sheltered water off Pwllheli as New Quay lifeboat handed over the tow to Pwllheli lifeboat. It really was a force 9 at the scene of the rescue. The photo is taken from New Quay's Mersey class lifeboat and the lifeboat in the picture is Pwllheli lifeboat. I am a crewmember at New Quay lifeboat station.