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A Lochaber salmon farm skipper on only his second shift came to the rescue of a German sailing yacht and its crew on Friday.
Lewis Gibson, who is based in Fort William but hails originally from Glenfinnan, skippers the Beinn Mowi workboat and noticed the 36-foot German-flagged sailing yacht ‘Joenathe’ on Friday as she drifted towards Kingairloch salmon farm in Loch a’ Choire, which leads into Loch Linnhe, where the workboat was moored.
The yacht had no engine or power and was dragging both her anchors including 200 metres of rope and 50 metres of chain in high winds and swell.
Joenathe – a well-equipped bluewater cruiser that has cruised to the Galapagos and Falklands and rounded the Cape of Horn and the Cape of Good Hope – made contact via VHF channel 16 emergency channel and stated they had lost power and required urgent assistance.
The 69-foot Beinn Mowi secured Joenathe alongside and returned to the fish farm.
After several hours trying to get the yacht’s engine to restart, the crew of Joenathe spent Friday night alongside the Beinn Mowi and Saturday night moored on one of Kingairloch fish farm’s pens.
By Sunday the weather had improved sufficiently to enable the Beinn Mowi to tow Joenathe the 12 nautical miles to Dunstaffnage marina for engine repairs.
Hajo, the master of Joenathe, and crewman Jörg, were over the moon with the assistance and hospitality they received from the Mowi team.
The rescue came as Lewis worked just his second shift as the skipper of Beinn Mowi. He had previously been manager of Kingairloch salmon farm where the action unfolded.
He explained: ‘It was a case of right place, right time. We were aware of the yacht drifting towards us and the skipper must have seen we were on deck and hailed us on the radio, by which time he was less than 100 metres from us.
‘It was around 5.30pm when he made contact and the site staff who work at Kingairloch would have been away by that time. He would probably have collided with our farm or the rocky shoreline which we are glad we were able to prevent.
‘It was a bit nerve-wracking. This was only my second shift as skipper. I’ve never done anything like this and the Beinn Mowi is twice the size of the sailing yacht, but we managed to come alongside in a safe and controlled manner and take control of the situation.
‘We helped to gather the anchors which were fully paid out and bring both boats into the shelter of Loch a’ Choire.
‘He was such a lovely guy and a highly experienced sailor. We’re just happy we were able to help.’
Hajo and Jörg have continued their journey and are currently in Tobermory, before eventually returning to the Netherlands.
The sailing yacht ‘Joenathe’ which had been drifting towards Kingairloch salmon farm on Friday. Photograph: MOWI Scotland. NO F25 stricken yacht 01
The stricken yacht, Joenathe, under tow by the Beinn Mowi workboat. Photograph: MOWI Scotland. NO F25 stricken yacht 02
Lewis Gibson is skipper of the Beinn Mowi workboat. NO F25 Lewis Gibson