By Christine Lavelle
TWO canoeists out fishing for lobsters had to be rescued after one dropped a pot of the snapping shellfish into the kayak – driving them into a panicked frenzy.
The petrified pair capsized while out checking on lobster pots in the dark, off the coast of Cockenzie Harbour in one single and one double kayak on Sunday evening.
As they began bringing the creels on board, one of the pots was dropped, and the lobsters were sprawled out around them.
Simon Ward, an officer at Forth Coastguard, said: “It seems one of the occupants was lifting a pot and dropped it into the kayak.
“The lobsters have been snapping about at the bottom of the canoe.
“His friend has obviously jumped off the kayak, and it’s capsized as a result.
“You can imagine the scene, like watching something from a comedy sketch.”
They sparked a major rescue operation which cost the coastguard around £4,500.
Simon Smart, a coastguard officer who co-ordinated the rescue, said: “It transpires that they were using one kayak to put the lobsters in and one of them has freaked out when the lobsters have got into the boat.”
The Fisherrow and Kinghorn Lifeboats were deployed around 7pm after members of the overlooking Royal British Legion club phoned the emergency services.
But – to add to the ridiculous plot – the brother of one of the stranded men shot out in a homemade life raft in an attempt to save them.
Mr Smart said: “This man went out on this craft, which we would rate as quite unseaworthy, to get them.
“They had been clinging on to the side in freezing waters for at least 30 minutes and paddled back to shore.
“This has been an incredibly foolish thing to do.
“You can slip into unconsciousness in well under an hour in those conditions.
“They have gone out in low light, without life jackets and in kayaks.
“It’s guaranteed you are going to get into some difficulty like this.”
Heather Angus, 53, bar manager at the Royal British Legion, which overlooks the bay, said: “I did think it was strange that they were out there in kayaks.
“One of my colleagues came running in and said we should phone 999.
“There was a fishing boat there soon but this small dark raft went out to get them.
“It took them ages to get there and quite a while to get back.
“It was quite unusual.”
A spokesman for Forth Coastguard said they discovered three individuals by the shore who refused medical treatment, and that one kayak sank as a result of the incident.
He also warned that inexperienced sailors should always wear a lifejacket to avoid getting into difficulty, and to be sensible about the time of day they are setting out.
It is understood that the lobsters escaped back into the water.