A Peterhead Lifeboat volunteer was recognised last week for his two decades of dedicated service to the RNLI.
Keith More (40) has seen his fair share of sea rescues since he joined the organisation at the suggestion of a friend 20 years ago.
The rescue catchment the volunteers at Peterhead are responsible for stretches from Rattray to Collieston and 100 miles out to sea, so there may be any number of different emergencies over the course of a year. And certainly in 20.
The most common shout for the volunteers at the Lifeboat involve trawlers and injuries to fishermen at sea.
But there is the odd occasion when something slightly more unusual takes place.
“There’s two shouts that stand out in my mind,” says father-of-two Keith.
Keith, who works offshore as a Mechanical Technician, remembers back to 1996 and a dramatic shout involving a huge cruise ship.
Keith and the team of volunteers were called to assist Russian vessel the Alla Tarasova when the captain discovered that it was starting to list.
“The captain thought he was taking in water,” says Keith. “He was listing slightly and thought he was sinking. There were 140 people on board who we were going to have to take off.”
The 47-foot Tyne-class lifeboat, the Babs and Agnes Robertson, stood by for a tricky evacuation.
“It turned out, he wasn’t sinking,” says Keith. “But we escorted the cruise liner back to Peterhead.”
Things became more complicated when the captain decided that he’d prefer to be docked in Aberdeen.
“We were three miles from the harbour when he decided he wanted to get to Aberdeen instead,” says Keith. “All I could think was that I had tickets for The Who at Hyde Park that weekend and was worried I’d miss it!”
Luckily, a persuasive member of the Coastguard managed to persuade the captain that docking in Peterhead was the best course of action. And Keith made his flight to London by the skin of his teeth.
“The Russian cruise liner stands out in my mind,” says Keith, who is also stepfather to two, “because it was the last time that we responded to a morse code mayday. The captain couldn’t speak English and so had to contact us that way.”
On a separate occasion in 1998, the Lifeboat volunteers returned home hungry for their supper after a gruelling 25-hour rescue.
“We went out 85 miles out to sea to a boat that had been involved in a collision,” says Keith. “It turned into a 25-hour shout by the time we had escorted it back to Peterhead.”
The job has had its ups and downs, as any job does, but Keith says the banter and camaraderie at the West Pier station is second to none.
The RNLI’s David Anderson explains why the job is so important: “The satisfaction for volunteers like Keith is different to what they could find anywhere else. Successful rescues are a real buzz.”
RNLI Peterhead are currently looking for volunteers. If you want to help those who find themselves in danger out at sea contact 01779 473331, email firstname.lastname@example.org or search for RNLI Peterhead on Facebook.