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Monthly News Bulletin

Back to 2004 News Archive

Fisherman has Dramatic Escape

A FISHERMAN had a dramatic escape after a "mini tidal wave" almost swept him out to sea at Cairnryan.

William McCalmont: a lucky escapeWilliam McCalmont, from Eastwood Avenue, Stranraer, said he felt lucky to be alive after the six foot wave threw him against a rock last Sunday.

The wave was formed by the departing HSS, and had he not clung to a crevice in the rock, William says he would not have survived. He said:

"I saw a dip in the ocean some way off which all of a sudden became a wall of water six feet high.

" Although it was far away it came at me like an express train. I picked up my seat and my rod and ran, but the next thing I knew I was on my face being dragged underneath it.

" I know it was caused by the HSS, but it's a mystery how it got so big - it must be a freak wave that comes up now and again."

William, who has been fishing in the area for around three years, hopes that his experience will act as a warning to other fishermen to expect the unexpected.

The incident comes almost a year after a six metre long cabin cruiser owned by Kirkcolm man Raymond McLeod was swamped by a wash wave believed to have come from the Stena Line's fast cat Stena Voyager.

The boat was a few metres off the beach when a wave struck, swinging the stern round and driving it towards the beach, before a second wave grounded it in shallow water.

Mr McLeod jumped into the water between the first and second waves, rescuing himself but hurting his arm and back in the process.

A Marine Accident Investigation Board report into the incident, which happened last September, stated: "It is probable that his boat was struck by waves generated by the wash from Stena Voyager."

Regarding safety issues, the report said that to date there had been no unacceptable consequences from an incident in Lochryan that can be solely attributed to wash waves.

"There are, however, substantial levels of concern among some users of the loch over the possibility of a serious accident in the future."

It adds: "The Marine Accident Investigation Board is unable to offer a firm conclusion as to whether or not large waves remain a serious and frequent problem to the safety of users of Lochryan and its shoreline.

" However there is sufficient indication that occasionally this might be the case and that further amendment to operational procedures might be necessary."

The MAIB were also critical of the wording on warning signs placed at various launch sites around Lochryan. It said:

"The aim of the warning signs is, to a degree, the education of visitors to potential dangers. In view of the possible size of waves and the delay between the ferry passing and the waves striking the shoreline, it is considered that the wording of the existing signs is inadequate."

Speaking about William's close encounter, his wife Gladys said:

"He's very lucky to be alive. I'm sure if it had been a smaller man he would not have been so lucky.

"We wouldn't want the boats away, they're important to the area. It's just important that people remember to be careful out there."

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