The pilots of a coastguard helicopter were the victims of a terrifying laser pen attack as they returned to base from a rescue mission.
The Inverness-based aircraft and the Mallaig lifeboat were both scrambled when a dinghy capsized off Skye.
The two crew of the small vessel were found by staff from a nearby hotel.
But their heroic efforts were overshadowed by the “idiots” who shone lasers at the helicopter crew as they arrived back in the Highland capital.
The coastguard confirmed the aircraft had not been required to winch any casualties from the sea.
The laser incident happened near Inverness.
A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “We can confirm that as the helicopter returned there was a laser pen incident.
“This was reported to Inverness police and they are investigating it.”
The rescue drama started just before 2.30am after the yachtsmen left the Hotel Eilean Iarmain’s public bar at Sleat on Skye.
Hotel manager Graeme Rankin said: “There were four of them in the pub drinking. We had a wedding on and there were 80 people in the bar and it was jam-packed.
“Two guys left on a dinghy and they were going to come back for their friends.
“They were gone for some time and as we were tidying-up at about 1.30am-2am the man on shore came to us and said he could hear calls for help.
“I called the coastguard and ran down to the edge of the jetty and shone a torch.
“Our bar manager Chris MacDonald used to be a fisherman so I got him and we ran and grabbed the first small motorboat we came to at the pier and headed out.
“We got to the yacht and there was one man holding on to ropes at the back and the other at the front. They were both in the water.
“One was quite responsive, he was calling out ‘help’ and he said he was cold. The other man wasn’t responding at all so we went to him first.
“We got the quiet one on to the boat. He was stiff as a board and freezing. We tried to pull the other one aboard but the boat nearly capsized.
“Round about that time the lifeboat appeared. They sent out a dinghy and managed to pull the other guy out.
“When we came across the two men they were pretty cold. I don’t know how long they would have survived in the water.
“The lifeboat and coastguard got there so quickly. Hats off to them. These guys are brilliant. I have nothing but respect for them. They are brilliant and they are out there saving lives.
“People who shine laser pens at helicopters are idiots. It is just stupid.”
Coastguard rescue teams from Kyle of Lochalsh, Portree and Broadford were also called out.
The lifeboat took the two casualties to Mallaig where they were transferred to an ambulance and taken to the Belford Hospital at Fort William.
It is understood one has since been released and the other was being kept in for observation last night.
The coastguard spokeswoman said: “The call came in just before 2.30am. Some people were using a dinghy to transfer between the land and their yacht, they had just come out of the pub.
“At some point unfortunately the small boat they were in capsized and two people went into the water. It was two people on land waiting for them to come back and get them who put in the emergency call.
“The Mallaig lifeboat and the coastguard helicopter from Inverness went to the scene.
“The lifeboat recovered two people from the water and brought them back to shore. They were taken to the Belford Hospital at Fort William.”