Today was dominated by the fate of a French fisherman, who was reported fallen overboard from his vessel, some 60 miles north of Lewis. This happened at 5.30 a.m., and an distress call was relayed through the French coastguard to their counterparts in Stornoway. A sea- and air rescue operation put into full swing immediately, with an RAF Nimrod aircraft and the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter searching the area of sea concerned. Although conditions were fair, with not much wind, visibility was poor. The other complicating factor was the temperature of the seawater (about 8 degrees Celsius / 46 Fahrenheit) and the clothing worn by the crewmember, which will have weighed him down. This made survival for any length of time unlikely. By nightfall, the search was abandoned. This is not the first such incident during the last 12 months, and neither will it be the last. Unluckily, this was the second incident involving a French fishingboat in the past year.
A local boat was involved in a fatal incident towards the end of 2004, when the vessel ran onto rocks close to the Arnish Lighthouse. The three crewmembers were rescued, but one died of drowning. Apparently, the boat was running on autopilot at the time of the grounding. The exact circumstances surrounding the incident were never fully cleared up, as it was the skipper of the boat that perished. The monument pictured above was erected in his memory.