RNLI exercise was ‘real thing’

Stonehaven volunteers practice capsize drill
Stonehaven volunteers practice capsize drill

Stonehaven RNLI had a busy day last Thursday when what started out as a training exercise turned into a real life rescue.

The new lifeboat station is preparing to officially open in the coming weeks, after the charity established a vessel for operational trials following the closing of the independent Maritime Rescue Institute in the town.

However, despite not yet being fully operational, the crew carried out a rescue last Thursday evening while on a training exercise to get accustomed to their new lifeboat.

Mike Picknett was leading the training exercise when the incident happened at around 8pm.

Mike, who is a senior lifeboat helmsman from Redcar in North Yorkshire, explained: “I was out with some of the crew doing routine training and getting the crew accustomed to the lifeboatwhich they’ve only just had delivered, when we were alerted to a young man and woman who had capsized from a dinghy out at sea.”

The pair were having difficulty righting the boat and were unable to get back in their craft.

“The lifeboat station isn’t fully operational yet’, said Mike.

“When that happens we become formally declared as a marine Search and Rescue (SAR) asset, which HM Coastguard and other agencies can then call upon.

“That said, all the crew have undergone first class professional training at the charity’s headquarters in Poole, Dorset, so are fully capable of a rescue.

“Of course we weren’t going to just stand by and decline to help the youngsters.’

The pair were very cold and wet, but otherwise they were not thought to have sustained any injuries.

They were taken to dry land where they were checked over by the local fire service, and then reunited with their families.

The RNLI’s trustees agreed to undertake operational trials at Stonehaven earlier this year, following the closure of the Maritime Rescue Institute (MRI) who, until very recently, were operating an independent lifeboat in the town.

It announced it would close in February this year following serious damage to the facilities and boats during the devastating storms last December.