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‘Almost cost a life’: Moray fisherman saved from sea after life rings removed from Portknockie Harbour

A life ring at Portknockie Harbour.
A life ring at Portknockie Harbour.

Passers-by had to think quickly to save a man from drowning off Portknockie Harbour this week after finding its vital life rings had been removed.

Four wild swimmers and a boat rushed to help a fisherman who had fallen into the sea from the breakwater on Wednesday.

There are usually two life rings on the north pier at the harbour, but the life-saving equipment was nowhere to be found when the rescuers went to grab them.

Instead, they used a nearby creel pot that was attached to a line for the fisherman to grab onto, dragging him to a ladder to climb to safety.

Though the man was checked over by ambulance crews and found to be unharmed, the close call prompted a stark warning to people tampering with life-saving equipment.

‘Removing these life rings almost cost a life’

Harbourmasters conduct a full check at or near the end of each month and all harbour staff conduct spot checks when they’re in the area.

The life rings were in position when last checked at Portknockie Harbour about two weeks ago.

Moray Council’s harbourmaster, Darren Bremner, said it was the first time life rings had gone missing.

Boats docked at the Portknockie Harbour
Portknockie Harbour. Photo: DC Thomson

“Removing these life rings almost cost a life,” he said. “Nobody wants that on their conscience.

“Quick thinking and luck that there were swimmers in the area means there was a more positive outcome on this occasion, but it could so easily have been a different story.

In light of this most recent incident, parents are being urged to make sure their children are aware of the dangers of removing life rings.

‘An ingenious solution’

Coastguard teams advise anyone around the coast to be aware of tide times, consider wearing a life jacket and take a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.

Colin Wood, senior coastal operations officer for Moray with HM Coastguard, echoed Mr Bremner’s claims that Wednesday’s incident at Portknockie could have had a worse outcome.

He said: “The quick-thinking people nearby saved a life but, had they not thought of a bit of an ingenious solution, it could have been a very different outcome.

“Safety equipment saves lives and when it is missing, a life is potentially put in grave danger, it is that simple.”

If you see anyone removing life rings, alert the harbourmaster immediately on 01542 831700.

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