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Ra (1)

On service in thick fog without radar A service to a yacht, unsure of its position in very dense fog and running low on fuel off Arran was conducted by the Campeltown lifeboat, with support from the Arran inshore lifeboat, in poor visibility, at night and without the use of radar.

At 2145 on 6 July 1991, the yacht Ra was reported to be unsure of her position and low on fuel in the area off the Iron Rock Ledges on the southwest corner of Arran. Due to the poor visibility and theyacht's low fuel state it was decided to launch the lifeboat.

Campbeltown's Arun class lifeboat Walter and Margaret Couper slipped from her pontoon mooring on service at 2325. The weather in Campbeltown Loch was calm withvery thick fog and visibility restricted to under a boat's length.

The lifeboat's radar had been removed for repair so the acting coxswain John Stewart steered her from the upper steering position and the acting second coxswain Robert Galbraith navigated from the wheelhouse.

The crew, except one, kept a sharp lookout on deck. Navigation, which was extremely difficult, was effected by use of the lifeboat's echo sounder and Decca Navigator.

Speed increased towards the Iron Ledges Buoy and a general broadcast was given that the lifeboat was proceeding at speed without radar.

However, the Decca Navigator was giving problems - it would not remain locked on and needed frequent resetting. With the fog lifting slowly to about 1,000m, the echo sounder was continously monitored.

At about 0020 the lifeboat reached the Iron Ledges Buoy and radio contact was made with the casualty, which was in an easterly direction.

The two yachtsmen aboard stated their intention to continue passage to Troon but in the circumstances the coastguard requested the casualty be towed to shelter at Lamlash.

At 0040, Campbeltown lifeboat manoeuvred alongside Ra and acting assistant mechanic David Cox boarded to find the yachtsman exhausted, somewhat confused and intent on continuing their passage.

He persuaded them to accept a tow.

The tow began at 0045 and, at the coastguard's suggestion, was taken over byArran's C class lifeboat Prince ofArran at 0210, accompanied by the Campbeltown lifeboat.

With the tow's progress now safe, the latter returned to station, berthing at 0330. The casualty was safely moored at Lamlash at 0340 and the C class was ready for service at 0355.

The Campbeltown acting coxswain John Stewart has been sent a Letter of Thanks from the Chairman..