Kayaking warning as salmon farmers come to the rescue
Members of the public have been alerted to the dangers of kayaking in sea lochs after a dramatic rescue operation by salmon farmers.
Staff from the Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) were working at the Aird site on Loch Torridon recently when they noticed someone in the water near the entrance to the loch.
In poor weather conditions, marine operatives Tom Charles Edwards, Gregor Oliver and Joseph Finlayson headed across the loch to discover two people in the water, while a third had managed to swim to shore.
Calling in a second boat which was being used by Ross-Shire Diving Services at the time, the farm and diving teams rescued the three casualties and their kayaks, providing them with thermal protective aids and treating them for shock and cold.
SSC staff also communicated with the Coastguard, which had dispatched a helicopter following the activation of a Personal Locator Beacon by one of the kayakers.
The Aird site landing craft then took the kayakers to the SSC shore base at Kenmore, where they were looked after until an ambulance arrived.
The staff involved in the rescue have been praised by the Coastguard for their fast response, clear communication and support.
Alfie Edwards, Applecross Coastguard, said: ‘Due to the observations of the Scottish Salmon Company staff, the overturned kayak was spotted quickly and a rescue was made.
‘The staff then brought the casualties to their site and kept them safe, warm and dry. A huge thank you to the fish farm staff for their quick actions which helped to stop the incident becoming more serious.
‘We ask anyone planning to go out on the water to notify the Coastguard operations room before they head out, to wear lifejackets at all times, to carry a PLB with them and to check the weather forecast before leaving as it can quickly change.
‘If anything goes wrong, or if you see something that doesn’t look right, please call 999 and report it to the Coastguard as soon as possible. If in doubt, phone it in.’
In a separate incident, SSC staff at Loch Torridon also helped to rescue a fishing boat which had run adrift with no engine power.
Peter Roberts and Joseph Finlayson, who work at both the Sgeir Dughall and Aird sites, were travelling to their shore base when they received a request for immediate assistance from the Blue Mist, which was adrift near the rocky shoreline of the Loch Torridon narrows.
The SSC staff turned their boat around and went to the boat’s aid, before towing it to safety.
An elderly couple and a dog were on board and were very grateful to SSC staff for their assistance.
Odd Eliasen, CEO of the Scottish Salmon Company, said: ‘We’re incredibly proud of Tom, Gregor, Joseph, Peter and the teams at our Aird and Sgeir Dughall sites, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to rescue not just three kayakers but also a fishing boat on Loch Torridon in recent weeks.
‘Their actions meant that both situations were brought under control quickly, rescuing five people from two terrifying incidents.
‘I’d also like to commend the Coastguard and the ambulance services for their support.’