Lifeboat at centre of famous rescue starts new life as Highland home


A CENTURY-old lifeboat which once battled the elements to save sailors in peril has been transformed into a Scottish Highland home – where you can stay the night for just £50.

The Alexandra was built in 1903 and was initially stationed with the RNLI in Cromer, Norfolk.

She was involved in the rescue of the 65-ton Sepoy in 1933, a dramatic incident which made front-page headlines at the time.

5After her retirement in 1934 she was brought to Scotland and has since been passed to the hands of the Fothergill family, who live near Oban..

They spent years lovingly converting the ship into accommodation – and now have listed the unusual property on AirBnb so that visitors can stay.

The lifeboat sits on the picturesque shore of the Cuan Sound, a channel of water which separates two islands on Scotland’s west coast.

Pictures show the red and blue vessel nestled among trees and grass, facing across the bay towards the Isle of Luing.

The listing states that the boat has six berths set around a central table, which serve as beds for guests, as well as a small kitchen area complete with a hob, kettle and cutlery.

The owners have also installed reading lights, charger points, a fridge and a microwave to bring the boat into the 21st century.

7There is also a toilet, shower, scullery and drying facilities in a timber cove situated 25m from the accommodation.

It costs £50 a night to stay in the unique listing, with a discount if guests decide to book for longer than a week.

The tranquil final resting place of the boat is a far cry from the extreme weather and dramatic rescues it was once involved with.

Its most notable life-saving attempt was in 1933, when it was called out to help rescue a stricken sailing barge whose anchors had been ripped off in a storm.

The Sepoy barge had run into trouble off the coast of Cromer, with its two-man crew left clinging to the mast for dear life as the large waves pounded the ship.

A motor-driven lifeboat was launched to sea, but had trouble getting near the boat due to the fierce waves.

It was decided that the oar-powered Alexandra lifeboat may stand a better chance, and pictures taken at the time show local townsfolk dragging it along the beach and into the water.

The rescuers tried desperately to bring the Alexandra close to the ship, by pulling on a line fired onto the barge by the Rocket Brigade.

They had reached the stern of the Sepoy when the line snapped and they were swept all the way back to shore.

The two Sepoy crew members were only saved when the skipper of the motor-powered lifeboat managed to drive his vessel onto the deck of the barge and carry out the rescue.

Michael Fothergill, 47, who owns the boat, said: “Alexandra has been in our family for over 40 years, but sadly in that time we have never sailed her – only worked on her.

A photograph of the 1933 rescue. The Alexandra is visible bottom left near the shore while the stricken ship can clearly be seen in the surf

“The previous owner sailed her in these waters and I think it was he who brought her up north a number of years after she was retired from the RNLI.

“Her most notable well-documented lifesaving attempt was that of the Sepoy in 1933, and she was retired the year after.

“She is the initial phase of our proposed development, Argyll Kayaker Cove, on the edge of Cuan Sound. We’re trying to create facilities for kayakers, walkers, or anyone who appreciates our beautiful surroundings.”