A DIVE vessel with 14 women on board was escorted into port after she began taking in water off Shetland on Sunday.
The 22-metre Valkyrie issued a mayday call in bad weather soon after midday when she was approximately eight miles east of Sumburgh Head. The wooden boat was taking in water in rough seas in the Roost.
Lerwick lifeboat and a rescue helicopter were scrambled to help minutes after the mayday call was received,
and water pumps were transferred to the Valkyrie from another boat, the fishery research vessel Scotia, which was in the area. The Lerwick lifeboat then escorted the Valkyrie into Lerwick harbour.
Shetland Coastguard watch officer Alex Dodge said: “The 14 on board were all safe and well. The skipper handled the situation extremely well.”
The 40-year-old converted fishing boat, with an all-female crew and female passengers, was heading to Shetland for a diving trip, and will be in the isles for the next few weeks.
Skipper Hazel Weaver, who has skippered dive boats for seven years and the Valkyrie since January last year and has 22 years experience as a power boat instructor, said she called the coastguard as a precaution.
Ms Weaver said: “The weather conditions were unexpected. We got a weather forecast but we were encountering 10-metre waves in Sumburgh Roost. The Valkyrie was [originally] a fishing boat and well able for the conditions.”
The problem started when the boat began taking in water from the rudder gland and a deck hatch, she said. The boat was equipped with a three bilge-pump system but one of the pumps had failed, meaning they only had one as back-up. Ms Weaver said: “We try to be two failures away from a problem.” Also, she said, she had to “err on the side of caution” because the boat was carrying 12 passengers.
The Valkyrie was able to proceed “under her own power and pumping under her own power” into Lerwick. She is currently in the small boat harbour.
While in the isles, the divers will dive on the wrecks of the Glenisla and two sunken klondykers.
Owned by the Orkney-based Northcroft Partnership, the Valkyrie is used for various types of dive trips, including recreational and wreck diving in locations in Orkney and Shetland, including Scapa Flow and Fair Isle as well as in northern Scotland and Faroe.