Sailing instructors have been praised after a “violent storm” off the north-east coast capsized several dinghies and sent 10 teenagers into the sea.
The emergency services have paid tribute to the efforts of those from the Peterhead Sailing Club who were running the session, and who ensured all of the youngsters were quickly taken ashore.
The incident, which involved seven dinghies, happened in Peterhead Bay on Wednesday night.
The teens had been out alongside two rescue boats with two senior instructors when the squall hit.
Due to the alarming initial report, a massive emergency response was mustered with Coastguard personnel, police officers, two ambulances, the Fraserburgh lifeboat and two Inverness rescue helicopters being asked to attend.
However, Coastguard crews who arrived from Peterhead and Cruden Bay found that club leaders had already plucked the children to safety and stood down the helicopters.
All 10 teenagers were checked over by paramedics and found to be uninjured.
Principal of the Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust, Angie Fraser, said: “We had a group of 10 experienced, academy-aged sailors from local schools sailing with us after school.
“They were sailing a mix of boats and were properly dressed for going into the water in the event of capsize – with wetsuits, buoyancy aids and spray tops.
“At about 5.55pm a larger gust came through, which caused three dinghies to capsize.
“The wind didn’t drop, resulting in more boats capsizing, so the instructors quickly took the decision to take all the participants from their boats ashore to safety.
“A supply boat in the harbour issued a mayday relay to alert the emergency services.
“But by the time the police and Coastguard had arrived, all the participants were ashore and waiting in the clubhouse with hot chocolate, so gradually everything was stood down.
“The instructors followed our action plan with regards to getting everyone ashore quickly, and our rescue boat was effective in rescuing everyone.”
The Buchan Coastguard released a statement about the “major response” and thanked the group for being prepared.
The statement read: “This incident had the potential to be far more serious in outcome except for some key factors.
“We would like to thank those involved for being properly equipped.”
A spokesman for the RNLI added: “The amazing and unpredictable forces of nature were shown to devastating effect when what started off as a fine, calm summer afternoon suddenly changed as flash violent storms whipped the seas up and down the coast into torrents of raging fury.
“Experienced members of the crew agreed that it was some of the worst conditions they had seen in all their years at sea.”
Fraserburgh Lifeboat responded immediately when paged at 5.58pm after reports that seven dinghies had capsized with ten youngsters aboard in Peterhead Marina on the 4th of September 2019.Fortunately all the youngsters were safe and well and out of the water before we got there and we helped recover the capsized dinghies.Then we had some pretty poor weather on our way back.The worst weather we’ve seen for a while
Posted by RNLI Fraserburgh Lifeboat on Thursday, 5 September 2019
The club’s stricken crafts were later recovered from the water by Peterhead Port Authority vessels Ugie Runner and Flying Scud, along with the private boats Skyfall and Seven Pegasus and the Fraserburgh lifeboat.