A DRAMATIC night-time operation involving Girvan lifeboat was mounted after a 999 call was received.

The drama unfolded just before 9.45pm on Saturday, August 5, when Girvan’s all-weather lifeboat was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard. 

A member of the public had spotted a yacht that looked as though it had trouble with its mast, around half mile west of Bennane caravan park, near Lendalfoot. 

Lifeboat 12-37, Silvia Burrell, and her volunteer crew were soon afloat and heading south, although darkness was creeping in fast.

But with a fresh north-west wind rolling into their side, they were soon nearing the area where the vessel had been sighted.

A spokesman for the crew said: “The flashing blue lights of Ballantrae Coastguard Rescue Team’s (CRT) vehicle could be seen on land indicating we were close.

“With no communications established to the vessel it was imperative that we got to it as soon as possible, with still nothing showing on our radar.

“A few minutes later we could just make out a single dull light, then the mast and the yacht, lighting it up with our searchlights a sole figure appeared from the stern of the sailing vessel Misjif.

“Communications, although via the casualty’s fractured English, were opened up and he was moored for the night and seemed quite happy and no issues seemed apparent with his mast.

“The lifeboat crew advised him that, with the current wind direction, having moored his yacht onto a fishing creel buoy was possibly not the best and safest option for him to spend the night especially with the sea hitting him side on and rolling the yacht severely as well as the creel not being a fixed anchor point, where he could still end up ashore.

“The safest option for him as he did not appear to have any working navigation lights either was to be in the safety of a harbour, the Girvan crew then escorted the casualty back to the town where it was met and berthed by members of Ballantrae CRT.”

Further investigations revealed that the vessel was lacking some basic safety equipment and had left Largs marina destined for the Caribbean.

“We do hope the safety advice of the CRT hits home with the mariner and would reaffirm if heading to sea on any vessel, that you have all the correct safety equipment, the vessel is sea worthy and correctly equipped, and also have a working method of communication if not more than one, checking in with the coastguard with your intentions would do no harm either.

“The lifeboat was back in Girvan and made ready for service once again at around midnight, in this instance it was deemed a false alarm with good intent from the initial 999 call, but also invaluable as it ensured the sailor was moored in a safer place for the night and received some valuable safety advice,” the spokesman added.