A LOCAL yachting instructor says he will be “forever grateful” to a team of life-saving charity volunteers for rescuing him and four of his students following a night-time exercise near Kilcreggan.

HM Coastguard requested the launch of the RNLI Helensburgh lifeboat on Thursday evening, March 25 to go to the assistance of a 43ft motor vessel near the village.

The boat had reported a line around its propellers and was drifting towards the shore before the RNLI team arrived on the scene.

The five crew onboard had managed to drop an anchor which was holding, and as the weather was deteriorating the RNLI lifeboat crew towed the boat to the safety of Rhu Marina where it was berthed with the help of the onshore local Coastguard Rescue team.

The You & Sea training boat, Millbrook, with four yachtmaster students and Euan Carruthers, director and chief instructor, on board, was returning to base at Rhu Marina from a night navigation exercise at Carrick Castle when she picked up a line around both props just off Kilcreggan.

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Euan said: “I will be forever grateful for the swift assistance and seamanship of RNLI Helensburgh, Helensburgh Coastguard Rescue team and the support of the Belfast Coastguard.

“We were about 0.3 nautical miles off Kilcreggan in about 30 metres of water when we picked up the line and we were getting blown towards the shore.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Euan CarruthersEuan Carruthers

“The four yachtmaster students were first class, remaining calm and controlled, quickly getting the situation under control which prevented us from ending up on the rocks.”

The You & Sea programme, described as the ‘west of Scotland’s premier marine training centre’, based at Rhu Marina, offers a range of yachting courses and qualifications, and the Millbrook motor cruiser is the flagship of its fleet.

Euan said the incident was a “very good learning experience” for his crew - although he is keen to avoid a repeat situation.

Helensburgh Advertiser: The Millbrook had no lasting damage from the incidentThe Millbrook had no lasting damage from the incident

He told the Advertiser: “We've had many a close encounter before with lines but that was the first time we had picked one up.

“You have absolutely no idea how folk are going to react until it happens.

“What sets a good skipper apart from the rest is the ability to think outside the box when something like that happens and not freak out.

“That was the first major experience I have had like that, so it was a test of my skipping ability as well.

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“You hope this doesn’t happen but when it does you just kick into auto-pilot.”

Euan said he plans to make a donation to the Helensburgh RNLI station as a thank you for their efforts - despite the inevitable ribbing he will be subjected to by branch members.

He said: “I’m very grateful for what they do. I’ve always lived next to an RNLI station but that was the first time I have ever had to call them out.

“I’ve worked with the RNLI for years and trained one or two of the local crew. They have a very tight-knit community in Helensburgh.

“You always know what they’re good at but you always dread the day you actually have to get their assistance.

“They’re never going to let me forget this incident.”

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