THURSO lifeboat crew battled rough seas and a force eight gale to go to the aid of a fishing boat which had got into difficulties off the north Sutherland coast on Thursday.
They set off on what proved a nine-a-half hour marathon mission at noon after the Sparking Line, with six on board, was reported to have fouled its propellor off Whiten Head.
The relief lifeboat, Roger and Joy Freeman, battled against strong winds and heavy seas for one hour 45 minutes before reaching the 17-metre long vessel and getting a line on board it off Skerray. Though in no immediate danger, it had been drifting slowly towards the shore.
On the return trip, the crew faced waves of up to 10 metres and had to endure heavy squalls of hail, sleet and rain. They also had to cope with the tow parting five time. They arrived back at Scrabster Harbour at 9.30pm.