Page last updated at 00:04 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Lifeboats rescue two people a day

South Queensferry crew towing a yacht
South Queensferry lifeboat towing a yacht last August

Scottish lifeboat crews rescued an average of two people a day last year, including the crew of a yacht carrying an empty coffin to a bar in Oslo.

RNLI figures for Scotland show 762 people were rescued by lifeboat volunteers during 2008.

South Queensferry near Edinburgh rescued the highest number - 75 people - and was the busiest inshore crew.

The statistics have been released on RNLI SOS Day - a national fundraising effort for the charity.

RNLI FACT FILE
Fundraising events are being held around Scotland and the UK to mark SOS Day.
Crews in the UK and Ireland launched 8,182 times in 2008.
Of the 7,533 people rescued 1,024 of them were children.
Oban in Argyll was the overall busiest Scottish crew, making 55 launches.

On the east coast, Arbroath launched on 46 occasions and rescued 27 people, while Aberdeen went out 25 times and rescued eight.

Eyemouth in the south of Scotland rescued 16 people while making 17 launches.

Inverness's North Kessock crew was among the busiest in the Highlands making 23 launches, while Mallaig rescued 33 people and Thurso 32.

The RNLI said the Islay crew saved the lives of seven when called to a stricken boat, operating in conditions which the volunteers described as like a "deep spin in a washing machine".

In July, the crew of a yacht with an empty coffin strapped to the deck had to be rescued by Barra lifeboat crew on the Western Isles after losing their way.

The craft got lost on its passage from America to Norway where the coffin was to be delivered to a bar in Oslo.

Lifeboat mechanic Angus MacNeil said at the time: "Seeing a coffin aboard a boat is not your normal everyday occurrence."

The lifeboat volunteers believed the coffin to be genuine, rather than a mock-up.

Severe toothache

In the same month, pregnant cows cooling off in the sea sparked a rescue operation as a heatwave hit the Highlands.

Up to 20 cows were spotted in the Dornoch Firth, in Easter Ross, resulting in 999 calls from concerned members of the public.

Coastguard crews from Portmahomack and Dornoch rushed to the scene, along with the Dornoch Inshore Lifeboat.

But the local farmer assured the rescue services that the cows were "chilling out" because of the searing sunshine.

And in March, a lifeboat had to be launched to a remote Scottish island to take a young worker who was suffering from severe toothache to a dentist.

The crew from Portree on Skye was called out to Rona because the weather and sea conditions were so bad.

They managed to reach the small island off the northern tip of Raasay in under the hour it usually takes from Portree.

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SEE ALSO
Cows in sea spark rescue effort
23 Jul 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Lost yacht 'was carrying coffin'
07 Jul 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Toothache sparks lifeboat rescue
20 Mar 08 |  Highlands and Islands

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