A seasoned north-east kayaker has spoken of his gratitude after a local rescue team saved him and his friend from hypothermia when they capsized in the North Sea.
Paul Jamieson and his kayaking partner were out seal-watching in Findhorn Bay yesterday afternoon when a rogue wave knocked him out of his cockpit and into the chilly water.
The situation grew more precarious when his friend also fell in, and a four to six knot current began to pull them both further away from the shore.
Mr Jamieson said: “We knew the area well, I have half a dozen kayaks in my fleet and I base them there, so I’m well used to the currents coming in and out.
“I’ve been kayaking for years and years, and this is the very first time I’ve been chucked out of it.”
As he lost feeling in his lower body, it took him around 30 minutes to swing himself back into the water-filled sea kayak – and in that time, the pair both lost their paddles.
He said: “When I eventually get into my boat, I’m up to my waist in water and a wee bit of hypothermia is kicking in, and you realise you’re going to have to do something here.”
A team of friends
Mr Jamieson, a bus driver for Moray Council, called the Coastguard himself, and prepared to set off the personal location beacon on his lifejacket if nobody picked up.
He said: “Lo and behold, I can’t tell you how short a time it was, out came the Moray In-shore Rescue Organisation (MIRO).
“They’re absolutely brilliant – skippered by a friend of mine, they all know me because I kayak round there, so the embarrassment is really going to be bad!”
The MIRO team helped Paul and his friend out of their boats and took them back around a mile to shore, where they were joined by a Coastguard helicopter that had been rerouted from a training operation.
Callout – Capsized Kayakers – #Findhorn Just after 1430 this afternoon, Sunday 28th February, a 999 call was received…
He said: “Hats off to all these people.
“Me and my pal are grateful and humbled by what they do, risking their lives to help us.
“The Coastguard are funded by the government and the RNLI get quite a big pot of donations, but MIRO have nothing, they have to do their own canvassing for money.
“So, I’m quite glad to chip in a few bob to help them out, because they were absolutely fantastic.”
The call-out was MIRO’s third of the year, after two alerts to incidents near Nairn, and their first rescue.
Peter Mackenzie, MIRO Operations Manager, said: “I am very pleased with how quickly the crew responded, making their way to the marina and launching MIRO Rescue from her winter storage in the boatyard within 12 minutes of being paged by the UK Coastguard.”
The Findhorn-based organisation was founded in 2005, and was named as a declared facility by the Maritime Coastguard Agency two years later.
It received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June last year.
MIRO Chairman, John Low, said: “MIRO crew and shore support volunteers remain on call 365 days of the year even in the current lockdown, ensuring they are ready to respond when the pager sounds.
“We had a record 25 call outs in 2020 and it is looking like 2021 is going to be another busy year for MIRO.”
Mr Jamieson said the nerve-wracking experience “won’t put us off” from kayaking, and he will be back out next weekend – with a spare paddle.