Highlands & Islands

Cape Wrath rowers washed ashore

Cape Wrath lighthouse [Pic: Colin Wheatley http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/10582]
Image caption The couple were spotted by a couple close to the Cape Wrath lighthouse

Two men have escaped unharmed after their rowing boat capsized in treacherous waters in the far north of Scotland.

The 18ft wooden rowing boat Green Cabbage Patch was spotted near the Cape Wrath lighthouse by members of the public as it struggled east towards Kearvaig Bay.

The coastguard was alerted and a rescue helicopter scrambled from Stornoway.

But by the time it arrived, the two rowers had been washed up on shore.

A coastguard spokesman said the men, who were rowing from Jura in the Inner Hebrides and were wearing lifejackets, had been faced with 20ft foaming surf and a very heavy rolling swell, as well as winds of up to 20 knots.

They were thrown into the water at about 2110 BST on Thursday - some 50 minutes before the rescue helicopter could reach them.

The remote location also made it impossible for the Lochinver and Thurso RNLI all-weather lifeboats or the Durness Coastguard Rescue Team to arrive at the scene in time.

'Very remote'

By the time the helicopter arrived at 2200 BST, both men had been washed ashore safe and well but cold. Their boat had also come ashore.

Robbie Robertson, duty watch manager at Aberdeen Coastguard, said: "This location is truly spectacular and wild, but very remote. We'd like to thank the very public-spirited first informant and his wife for keeping us informed throughout with a very accurate picture of events.

"This could have had a very different outcome. Fortunately both young men are safe and well and uninjured despite their experiences."

Mr Robertson said the men had planned to spend the night in a bothy close to the beach before attempting to relaunch their boat on Friday morning.

He added: "Although both people seemed competent in what they were doing our advice is to ensure anyone attempting similar journeys need to have done sufficient research on tides and swell in what can be highly treacherous waters in very exposed conditions."

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