December 8, 1959, was a day of tragedy following the capsizing of the Mona lifeboat.
The disaster claimed the lives of all eight men involved in a rescue attempt on board the RNLI boat.
To mark 60 years since the disaster, Tele chief reporter Lindsey Hamilton spent time with the current crew and learned more about the lifesaving missions they’ve taken part in.
The light was fading fast as Broughty Ferry’s all-weather lifeboat powered upriver on her latest rescue mission, heading out on another lifesaving journey nine miles out at sea.
It was a cold and grey November afternoon on the River Tay as vessel Elizabeth of Glamis raced to the scene.
Also out on the water as part of the rescue operation was the inshore lifeboat, Oor Lifesaver, and her crew.
The rain was teeming down and everywhere you looked there was just grey, from the sky to the sea and all the way into the horizon.
There was also a three-foot swell which would make it very difficult to spot a solitary person in the water – with possibly only a head being visible occasionally above the waves.
One minute you thought you could see something, the next it disappeared from view into the never-ending waves.
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So far this year, the Broughty Ferry crew has saved nine lives at sea or in the River Tay.
The volunteers have launched 99 times and helped 36 people in immediate danger.
But on this occasion, fortunately, there were no lives actually at risk. The crew was on a training exercise – and the Tele had been invited on board.
The weather conditions weren’t great during the training exercise the Tele took part in.
Coxswain Murray Brown was aware of the changing conditions and the need to complete the rescue in order to return everyone back to base as quickly and safely as possible.
As he followed a course along the coast towards Arbroath, Murray was focused on the task ahead. Training exercises like this are crucial to prepare the crew for whatever could potentially lie ahead on a real shout.
Murray said: “When we get the call to launch the lifeboats, we have no idea what we are facing.
“We need to be prepared for all eventualities and the crew and boats need to be kept permanently prepared and on standby.”
During this mission we travelled at 18 knots up river – it would normally be around 26 knots, but the boat had been slowed down in order to accommodate any potential sea legs their on-board reporter may be experiencing, particularly given the swell.
We left Broughty Ferry at around 2pm and about nine miles out we dropped a buoy –our casualty on this occasion – overboard.
We then motored off and left it, heading about another mile and a half away from the drop-off point in St Andrews Bay.
By now the swell was actually slowing down our progress and Murray and his crew were all too aware that every moment was vital if they were to save their “casualty” in the water.
After about 25 minutes, with the crew working together as a smooth and efficient team we spotted our buoy – a tiny speck in the growing swell and fading light.
Murray said: “This was a necessary and successful training exercise, the next time it could be for real – and we need to be prepared for anything.”