On a jet black night in the middle of winter the Fraserburgh lifeboat the Willie and May Gall lifeboat headed out in to the North Sea, only for two crew members to jump overboard into the darkness and the lifeboat to sail away.
Half-an-hour earlier, at the routine briefing session held in the Lifeboat Station at 6:30pm, prior to every Thursday night exercise, cox Victor Sutherland had no shortage of volunteers when he asked who was willing to go into the water that night to give everyone experience of a ‘man overboard’ simulation.
John May and James Taylor were the volunteers selected for the first run, and with their dry suits and lifejackets on, they were in the North Sea within 30 minutes.
When the lifeboat had gone a reasonable distance, Victor turned her around and the searchlights soon picked up two tiny specks of yellow in the expanse.
The figures of John and James floating in the water soon came into view and within seconds Victor had manoeuvred the boat alongside them on the starboard side and they were winched aboard by Kira Downie and Billy Duthie.
Second Cox David Sutherland then took the next crew out on the second run. It was then Shane Richardson’s and Ian Reid’s turn to jump overboard and be winched aboard by Peter Reid, Michael Strachan, Stephen Watt and Alan Smith
The mechanics on the evening were Jason Flett and Iain Milne.
With training as extreme as this, sailors are sure to sleep a little safer at night.