Highlands & Islands

Ross County relief for sailors stranded for months

Sailor Image copyright BBC Alba
Image caption The crew includes seven Ukrainians and a Lithuanian

Eight sailors have been stuck in Scotland for more than four months after their ship broke down.

The seven Ukrainians and one Lithuanian have had to stay with the MV Nicola in Invergordon after the vessel got into difficulty in the Pentland Firth.

The boat's owners also went bankrupt, but following a takeover by a new company the seamen will be able to return home on Thursday.

During their time in Scotland they were taken to Ross County games in Dingwall.

Drew Anderson, Invergordon's port chaplain, said the eight had become keen supporters of the SPFL team.

He told BBC Alba: "They went to all the home matches at Ross County.

"The club was kind enough to give them hats and scarves and tickets for the matches.

"They are now staunch Ross County supporters."

During the sailors' spell in the Highlands, Ross County ended a string of defeats with a run of five wins and a draw - one of the best performances in the SPFL.

Image copyright BBC Alba
Image caption The MV Nicola broke down in the Pentland Firth
Image copyright SNS
Image caption Ross County players celebrating a win

The men also volunteered at the Blytheswood charity depot in Evanton, near Invergordon.

The eight have been able to return home following the acquisition of the boat's owners by a Dutch shipping company.

Mr Anderson said: "It's been difficult for them being so far from home and in a foreign country, and sometimes short of money.

"They are really looking forward to seeing their wives and children."

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