A north-east lifeboat charity is aiming to stay afloat after buying new equipment to protect its vital vessel.
The Moray Inshore Rescue Organisation (Miro) launched the third craft in its 15-year history last year following a massive fundraising drive.
Now the Findhorn-based group has invested in a new dry dock facility to ensure its lifesaving vessel is protected from the elements by lifting it out of the water.
The previous craft Glyn Whitehead II, named after the local sailor whose death in 2003 inspired the formation of the lifeboat group, had to be retired from service amid concerns repair bills could soon mount up.
It is hoped the new £10,000 facility will reduce damage caused to the boat while it is in the water, particularly during the winter months.
Miro, which covers the coastline between Burghead and Nairn as well as Findhorn Bay, has been extremely busy this year due to the rise in staycations.
The volunteer crew has been called out 23 times to emergencies – compared to just 13 in the whole of 2019.
Some of the most recent shouts have included being called to rescue injured people trapped on rocks, walkers trapped by the tide and swimmers injured in the water.
Senior coxswain Simon Paterson said: “The dry dock will be extremely helpful in extending the life of our new rescue boat, the Glyn Whitehead III.
“Sitting on the dock, the boat is out of the water when not in use.
“Time ashore for cleaning barnacles off the bottom of the boat is also significantly reduced, enabling the boat to be in service more of the time.
“Our training programme has been reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, several members of our crew are now trained and competent in recovering the boat to the dry dock.”
The group’s lifesaving mission was recognised this year when it was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is the highest honour a UK voluntary group can receive.
The fundraising drive to purchase the new dry dock was supported with a £5,000 grant from the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation, which is the personal legacy of the couple who grew the Fochabers-based soup giant.
Miro chairman John Low said: “We are extremely grateful to the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation for supporting us to purchase this very important piece of equipment.
“It is a very timely purchase alongside our new rescue boat and has been put to good use by docking the Glyn Whitehead III on the pontoon at Findhorn Marina since lockdown restrictions on water sports were lifted towards the end of May.”
Foundation trustee George McIntyre said: “It is reassuring to know these dedicated volunteers are on hand to assist our emergency services in saving lives.
“We are delighted the people of Moray and local businesses continue to support the efforts of this special team.”