Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Perilous on Loch Ness

I think we all have seen the picture that presumably showing the creature designated as Loch Ness Monster from the distance over a vast calm lake surface. So I always carry the impression that Loch Ness is a generally peace and tranquil place. Well, they have storms and freaque waves too. Liverpool Echo carried this happy ending story this morning by Alan Weston with a relatively long title: "Liverpool man relives moment he thought he would die on Loch Ness":

A LIVERPOOL man today relived the terrifying moment he thought he would die on Loch Ness.

Alistair McQuillan came within five minutes of death when his canoe was capsized by a freak wave on the infamous Scottish lake.

The 23-year-old, of Hightown, was on the third day of a fund-raising canoeing expedition – along with brother Nick, 20, and two friends – when the drama unfolded.

Although they set sail in perfect weather, conditions took an abrupt turn for the worse by the time they reached the middle of the loch.

Here's how he told his story in the article:
“When we set off, it was beautiful, sunny weather and Loch Ness was like a millpond with no waves. But then, when we were about halfway across, the weather suddenly turned absolutely horrendous.

“The waves were really high and it was like facing sea conditions in an open canoe.

“Then this one wave came up and hit us from behind, tipping the base of the canoe over the front of the canoe, and we were both thrown into the water.

“The waves were so high we couldn’t right the canoe and by this time it was full of water.

“We were both shouting and screaming ‘Help!’. Mark started to swim for shore, but my legs had become entangled and I was stranded in the middle of the loch.

“I thought I was a dead man as not many cars go past and there was no-one to raise the alarm.”

Indeed he was close as
“I was in the water for 25 minutes with only a buoyancy aid to keep me afloat – the survival rate is 30 minutes, which means I was only minutes away from death."
They were really in luck, by sheer chance, the pair were spotted in the water by a passing motorist who happened to be a canoeing instructor who called for help from Loch Ness RNLI and was able to guide the lifeboat crew to the right location.

“I don’t know who the passing motorist was but we were so lucky, not only that he spotted us struggling in the water but that he was a canoeist himself. I would love to speak to him just to say ‘Thank you.’

“I’m lucky to be here. It’s just a miracle.”

“What surprised me was how the weather can change in a matter of 15 minutes from gorgeous to absolutely horrendous.”
The last statement should be a good moral lesson for the story and for everyone of us to bear in mind. The quick change in weather can happen everywhere else also. I guess it could be a surprise to us that the Loch Ness can be as stormy as other large bodies of water.


Loch Ness RNLI said...

I am a crew member at Loch Ness RNLI station. Our advice is that all canoeists and Kayakers make their journey plans known to the UK Coast Guard in Aberdeen before they take to the water. Loch Ness is a supremely dramatic place to visit and we encourage everyone to come along but please take care, have good safety equipment, a portable VHF radio, flares atc. Please treat the loch as you would an open sea area. We are all tremendously pleased that this group of lads have made it home safely and particularly commend the member of the public that alerted the emergency services.
Thank you from Loch Ness RNLI.
You can view our home page at

barbara moss said...

Hi. In 1989 we experienced really rough water on loch ness also, whilst on a boating holiday down the caledonian canal. We were warned by locals to keep to the sides of the loch, but we went almost down the middle. We thought we were goners. The waves were so high. When we got to the other end, it was so calm.