Sometimes when you look back and think how lucky I was. A few of my mates loved sailing and the Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team had a boat and we used it in the lochs on call -outs and on sea stacks. We even did a few trips to Rum. It went with us everywhere and was a wonderful addition to the team. We called it “Daz Boat” It made some long days easier and going up the Highland Lochs on NVG’s at night was superb. We used it a lot on the West Coast a lot on Skye into Coruisk, Knoydart, Kintail and way up North.
I was always very wary of water but enjoyed the lifts and fun on the boat. The boat was the idea of the late John Coull who had the vision to organise it and the training. He was way ahead with his ideas especially the uses of GPS for navigation, Night Vision Goggles and we had many adventures with it. I was very aware of the dangers of the sea but the training the boys got from the Navy was wonderful.
Instead of a long walk out of Loch Mullardoch the boat would come in and get you. We even gave Andy Nisbett a lift and saved him a long walk. We had to be very careful as the boat could fly along and we had all the gear. In Knoydart we took unusual ways up the hills and it made the hill days a bit more interesting and exciting.
Of course when you look back you are amazed what we got up to but we did use it on several call outs and even the keepers were amazed as we set of in the dark with the NVG’s on. Of course boats had been used before but we thought we were the first.
One trip to Rum done at night stands out with a huge electric storm at Elgol in Skye as we waited for it to abate. We headed out to Rum and saw the Minky Whales out at sea. That was an incredible sight to see. We spent two days of Rum with drop offs at the bothy in the boat for our superb ridge walk.
Of course few will realise that RAF Mountain Rescue held the record for the highest boat in the world on our Everest 2001 expedition to Tibet. Just below ABC the glacier lake forms late in the season The late Ted Atkins and Jim Groak launched their boat at over 20000 feet.
- Kev – I remember a less successful trip out in it on Loch Mullardoch. We were going to climb the munros on the N side of the loch so we got the boat to take us right out to the western end. It was mid-winter and the weather was typical wet, sleat and winds. Just as we arrived at the drop off point there was a clunk from the outboard and JC announced that we had lost forward drive, meaning we could only go in reverse! This wasn’t a good situation considering our location and the weather so we cancelled our hill day and decided to stay together with the boat as we made our way back to the dam in reverse gear. I can’t remember details but it took ages as we crawled back, any attempt to go faster forcing water over the stern meaning a session of baling to keep us afloat. It all ended up good though, JC stayed cool as usual and a few wet and cold troops had a story to embellish in the pub that night
- Douglas Crawford This training got me an excellent few weeks working as a safety boat for posh folks yacht clubs when I went back to university….”lifes about moments”.JC a true adventurer and gent.