Rescue as sailor falls overboard

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A SAILOR from Blackness Boat Club survived spending an hour drifting in choppy waters across the Firth of Forth when he fell overboard from his yacht on Sunday afternoon.

The RNLI Queensferry Lifeboat rushed to the aid of Jim Halliday off Crombie Point on the Fife coast after being alerted just before 1.20pm.

The 63-year-old had been alone on his 23ft vessel, the Puffin, when he found himself in the water shortly after setting off from Blackness.

Although he was wearing a lifejacket and had a safety line to his yacht, Jim could not manage to get himself back on the boat.

He was spotted by the three-person crew of a Leith tug, the Beamer, that was in the area and was taken aboard.

They informed the coastguard, who in turn contacted the RNLI Queensferry Lifeboat Station, where helmsman Martin Crawford and crew members Heather Still and Stephen Nesbitt launched the lifeboat.

An RNLI spokesman said: “The lifeboat crew quickly located the tug Beamer, and took the casualty aboard the lifeboat and rushed him to Blackness where an ambulance waited to take him to Stirling Infirmary to be checked over, as he had been in the water for an hour.

“The lifeboat returned to take his yacht in tow and safely berthed her at Port Edgar Marina, and the good news from the hospital was that Mr Halliday was none the worse for his experience.”

The cause of his fall into the water was unknown to the RNLI, but speaking on Monday the spokesman said it was believed he had been released from hospital.

Of the rescue crew’s response, he added: “They took his wet clothes off him and put him in a thermal bag.

“He could have been hypothermic but I suppose he was quite fortunate the tug was in the vicinity at the time.

“It was a force three-four wind, a fresh breeze, so the water was quite choppy.”

The rescue took place more or less opposite Blackness, he said.

“The guy fell out of the yacht just off Blackness, he was just setting off.

“He was obviously on a line and the yacht more or less sailed itself, drifted, across the Forth with him hanging off it.”

Avonbridge’s Jim was uncontactable this week, despite several attempts by the Bo’ness Journal.