Buckie to Fraserburgh, via Macduff

Day 59  Monday 2 May: Of the three target Lifeboat stations for today, Macduff was the one that nearly got away. Before I explain, let’s start at the beginning. Buckie is another one of those big but now relatively quiet ports with a history of fishing on a very large scale, similar to so many others. With the decline of fishing, the port managed to hang on for some time to a thriving boatyard, responsible for much of the building, repair and  refitting of many a vessel along this Moray coast, including the maintenance of much of the RNLI fleet. The eventual demise of the boatyard was another blow. The only saving grace was that there remained a good sized community of able and willing mariners available for voluntary Lifeboat service. Today, the RNLI continues to operate a very important and successful Severn Class Lifeboat. Many thanks to Alan (Cox’n) and  Marcus, (dep 2nd Mech on loan from Kirkwall). Good to see you again. Thanks to you both for route advice and sending me off on the right track.

Shame I didn’t exactly follow the advice carefully enough. 26 miles later, I realised I must have missed a turning. A quick call to Chassey (Sen.Helm) confirmed my fears. I’d overshot the turn to the Macduff ILB Station and cycled 3 miles beyond, up a long climb. No choice, can’t miss one out. I had to turn back. Macduff are unique in that they have a special launching platform for their Atlantic B Class Inshore Rescue Boat, which lives on the back of a very smart, big truck. This means they can, if necessary drive to an alternative launch sight along the coast. The usual, very quick launch is from their own adjacent slipway. Great for Inshore Rescue work but I wouldn’t fancy being one of the crew on board an open air boat dashing across the heavy swell in the kind of conditions often faced in the North Sea. That’s when a new Shannon All Weather boat would be greatly appreciated. Maybe, one day…?

Back on the road, up the now familiar first climb on the route to today’s third and final destination. Another 25 miles to go. The wind was still with me and any time lost earlier was made up by the time I reached Fraserburgh. This is the biggest, busiest port visited so far. Today I had the privilege of meeting two of the Sunderland family, at least 5 of whom have served on the Fraserburgh Lifeboat, including Vic (senior), now retired, who was a crew member here for many years, serving with his twin brother Albert (then Cox’n) and cousin David. Many thanks to the current Cox’n/mech, the younger Vic Sutherland, for all your help, including finding somewhere very local to stay at Cheers Tavern, run by Dennis Forsyth, who provided accommodation at no charge. Cheers indeed Dennis!

There has been a lifeboat here at Fraserburgh for over 200 years, with the RNLI taking charge 158 years ago 1858. Many medals for galantry have been awarded but sadly, Fraserburgh Lifeboat has suffered great tragedy on three occasions. In 1919, 1953 and 1970 a total of 13 volunteer crew members’ lives have been lost whilst attempting to rescue others in difficulty at sea.

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