‘Missing’ kayakers found safe and well

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A major multi-agency air and coastal search was initiated on Sunday night after concerns grew for three kayakers thought to be missing from Muasdale Holiday Park.

Coastguard rescue teams from Campbeltown, Southend, Gigha and Tarbert were tasked by Belfast Coastguard to carry out shoreline searches alongside the RNLI lifeboat from Islay and Coastguard search and rescue helicopter 199 from Prestwick.

A concerned member of staff at Muasdale Holiday Park informed the Coastguard that the three had left the village to kayak to the islands of Cara and Gigha that morning and he had expected them back by the evening. He became concerned when they failed to return.

The kayakers were eventually located by the powerful beam of the helicopter’s searchlight, at about 11pm, safely camped on the north end of Gigha.

The lifeboat coxswain, David MacLellan, said afterwards that this was a false alarm with good intent and that the concerned caller did the right thing.

The RNLI is a charity which has saved more than 142,200 lives at sea since it was founded in 1824. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts.

The charity runs a drowning prevention campaign and its community safety key message highlights the importance of kayakers informing someone of their plans – where they are going and when they expect to arrive there.

This incident highlights the importance of following this advice and having a suitable means of communication with which to do so, bearing in mind that a mobile phone may not be able to receive a signal in many of Scotland’s secluded or remote beaches and islands.

A Coastguard spokesperson added: ‘Well done to all involved and thank you to the first informant for raising the alarm. If in doubt, always dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’