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Eagle-eyed resident credited with helping save life of windsurfer stranded in the Forth

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An eagle-eyed Anstruther resident has been hailed a hero after lifeboat crews helped rescue a windsurfer stranded miles from land in the Firth of Forth.

Dramatic footage of the life-saving operation emerged over the weekend after two boats from RNLI’s Anstruther station were despatched by the UK Coastguard to reach the surfer who had got into difficulty while trying to cross the estuary.

It is understood the alarm was raised shortly after 6pm on Friday evening when a person looking out to sea with their telescope at home in Anstruther spotted the windsurfer struggling to the south of May Island.

ANSTRUTHER RNLI LAUNCH TO WINDSURFER ATTEMPTING TO CROSS THE FIRTH OF FORTH

ANSTRUTHER RNLI LAUNCH TO WINDSURFER ATTEMPTING TO CROSS THE FIRTH OF FORTHBoth lifeboats from Anstruther were tasked by the UK Coastguard tonight (Friday 28 July) after a call was made by someone in Anstruther who spotted the windsurfer in difficulty south of the May island.The eagle-eyed caller spotted the windsurfer while looking through a telescope from their home in Anstruther. Dialling 999 and asking for the Coastguard, the lifeboats were tasked to begin a search to locate the lone surfer.After a short search, the windsurfer was located 10 miles from Anstruther and was a further six miles from his destination – Dunbar. The decision was made to take the individual to the safety of the closer Dunbar harbour.The volunteer crew at Dunbar launched their inshore lifeboat to assist with the entry into a narrow and blustery harbour mouth.Anstruther's inshore lifeboat refuelled in Dunbar and made its way back across the Forth to Anstruther.Commenting on the rescue, volunteer crew member aboard the inshore lifeboat, Shelley Watson said: 'We would like to praise the efforts of the caller who not only spotted the windsurfer in difficulty but dialled 999 and asked for the Coastguard. If you see anyone in difficulty, we ask that you too do as this person did and dial 999 and get help to the person'.The lifeboats returned to Anstruther to be washed down, refuelled and made ready for the next call – all in time for last orders at the chip shop for those who missed their Friday evening dinner!

Posted by RNLI Anstruther Lifeboat on Friday, 28 August 2020

Dialling 999, the Fife-based lifeboats were tasked to begin a search to locate the lone surfer, and he was found in the water around 10 miles from the Fife coast and a further six miles from Dunbar on the south side of the Forth.

The identity of the person who called the emergency services has not been revealed, but RNLI Anstruther volunteer crew member Shelley Watson said the lifeboat crews and indeed the windsurfer in question were grateful for their quick-thinking.

“We would like to praise the efforts of the caller who not only spotted the windsurfer in difficulty but dialled 999 and asked for the Coastguard,” she said.

“If you see anyone in difficulty, we ask that you too do as this person did and dial 999 and get help to the person.”

The windsurfer, who is said to be in his 50s, is understood to have left Crail at around 5pm and was heading in the direction of North Berwick when the wind suddenly dropped, slowing his progress.

Once located by the Anstruther crews, the decision was taken to escort the surfer to Dunbar, although the UK Coastguard asked Dunbar’s inshore lifeboat (ILB) crew to help guide the Anstruther ILB into Dunbar Harbour as the narrow entrance there was unfamiliar to the Fife crew who were now being forced to contend with blustery conditions and waves of up to two metres.

A spokesperson for the RNLI at Dunbar said the surfer had been “experienced” and “well equipped” for his planned journey, but the decision was taken to take him into Dunbar rather than back to Anstruther for safety reasons.

Anstruther’s inshore lifeboat refuelled in Dunbar and made its way back across the Forth to Anstruther, with Ms Watson revealing the crews were home in time for last orders at their local chip shop.

The rescue came amid reports that local RNLI crews have seen a marked upturn in call-outs since lockdown was eased, with volunteers seeing beaches and coastlines busier than normal.

At Kinghorn, for example, pagers have sounded 65 times so far in 2020, with the lifeboat launching more than 50 times.

With that in mind, and with fundraising events affected by lockdown and restrictions, the RNLI has launched a new door-to-door envelope campaign asking people to donate what they can to keep the vital life-saving service adequately funded.

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