THE crew of a yacht which sparked a major search and rescue at the weekend have been criticised by coastguard officials.
The operation to find the 31 foot motor yacht Nina swung into action on Saturday after she failed to reach her destination on time.
No one had heard from the vessel since she set sail on her voyage from Faroe, bound for Foula, on Thursday night, despite her being well stocked with communication equipment.
The Nina was equipped with a VHF radio and an emergency radio beacon. Mobile phones were also on board the vessel.
She had been expected to arrive in Foula on Friday night, and was already 16 hours late when the alarm was raised.
There was no response to attempts to contact the two-man crew by VHF and mobile phone.
The coastguard helicopter, Oscar Charlie, was scrambled, as well as a Nimrod helicopter from the RAF base at Kinloss.
The alert was later raised to a full Mayday signal, and the coastguard in Aberdeen was notified.
Oil and gas installations between Faroe and Shetland were also asked to keep a look out, in case the vessel was spotted.
Ports and harbours were contacted around the isles and urged to be watchful.
The search was only called off when coastguard officers in Faroe received a call from the Nina‘s crew, who were sailing to port in Scalloway.
Coastguard watch manager Katrina Hampson said she was disappointed members of the crew were unaware of the major attempts to find them.
“We are delighted that the yacht was located with the two Faroese gentlemen safe and well on board, but frankly we are a little perplexed that such a major search seemed to pass them by,” she said.
“We are intending to go to Scalloway and meet them and to ensure they are aware of the need to keep an ear on the distress channel at all times.”