Christmas will never quite be the same for two brothers who, this time last year, shared a Christmas Day experience from very different perspectives.
Steven Wilson, a volunteer with the Aith lifeboat crew, was sitting down with his family for the traditional Christmas dinner when he received a call from brother John-Arthur, an experienced creel fishermen.
John-Arthur Robertson had suffered engine failure while travelling to Clousta harbour ready to sell his catch the following day. Stranded in deep water, his small creel boat was drifting dangerously close to rocky cliffs in ever-worsening conditions.
Shortly after, Steven’s lifeboat pager alerted him of a distress call that had just come in – the call John-Arthur had made after speaking to his brother.
“I knew that if the anchor on his boat slipped, my brother would be gone,” said Steve.
The emergency began at about 6.30pm after a routine trip turned into a life or death rescue and a brother saving a brother.
“I’ve been on boats all my life,” said John-Arthur.
“When I left the pier it was a calm, clear moonlit night. I felt no worries – it was just another day.”
It took 20 minutes for the lifeboat to reach the stricken boat, where Steven and his crew mates tried desperately to throw a line to John-Arthur, hampered by high winds and pitching seas.
After three attempts a line was finally attached, and the lifeboat was able to begin the journey back to Aith. The rescue was completed by 9pm.
Steven said: “Back at home, the reality of how close John-Arthur had come to losing his life sank in.”
John-Arthur has remained an avid fisherman, although he’ll be sticking firmly to dry land this Christmas day, spending it with his family.
“I have more respect for the sea since the rescue and I will definitely appreciate Christmas more this year,” he said.