Watch the RNLI retrieve the stricken yacht off the coast of Dunbar.
A Swedish couple rescued from mountainous seas and severe gale 9 say they owe their lives to Dunbar’s RNLI lifeboat crew.
Jonas and Ingrid Akerblom were 37 miles North East of Dunbar on Friday night when they put out a distress call as their 24-foot boat was battered by 10-metre-high waves.
RNLI lifeboat coxswain Gary Fairbairn (pictured with skipper Jonas Akerblom) said conditions were the worst he had seen and the Dunbar’s boats speed was restricted to just 15 knots as he fought huge seas to reach the stricken yacht. It took the Dunbar boat – the John Neville Taylor – three hours to reach the casualty where an ocean-going tug was standing by.
Coxswain Fairbairn said, “I spoke to the captain of the tug and between us it was clear the yacht could not be towed. We told the yacht skipper he had to abandon his vessel and we would leave it drifting.”
He added, “I asked them to get into their life raft so we could pick them up but they didn’t have one, and in fact only had one buoyancy aid between the two of them. The only option for us was to get alongside and take them off”
The couple had spent six years building the yacht and the disaster came on their first-leg of what they hoped would be a 14-month voyage round Europe and out to the Azores.
Yacht skipper Jonas Akerblom, 46, a musical instrument maker from Gothenburg said, “It was not a hard decision when we were told we had to leave the boat. But it was very sad as it took us six years to build the boat and we did not know if we would see it again. The weather hit us without a great deal of warning. If I had known how bad it was going to get I would have turned round and gone further out to sea when conditions would have been better.”
The pair have been staying in the Bayswell Hotel in Dunbar with their bill being paid for by the lifeboat crew.
Coastguards broadcast warnings to shipping in the Firth of Forth area that the yacht, he Ouhm, was drifting without crew on board. The boat was eventually spotted heading to rocks near Arbroath Harbour. As it neared the shore a drogue snagged the bottom and prevented the yacht being smashed up on the rocks.