CHANGING weather conditions saw five dinghies abandoned and North Berwick Lifeboat crew called out.

The lifeboat was alerted shortly before noon yesterday (Saturday) after reports of multiple capsized vessels off the coast of the town.

As volunteers were readied they were made aware that the dinghies were part of an East Lothian Yacht Club activity.

A spokesperson for the RNLI said: “The dinghies had been abandoned after a sudden deterioration in conditions, with their occupants safely rescued by the ELYC rescue boats.

“Once the crew established the safety of the sailors, they launched to assist the ELYC rescue boats in the recovery of the five abandoned sailing dinghies which had dispersed over a wide area due to the wind and tide.

“Two vessels were righted and handed over to ELYC rescue boats, whilst one was towed in by the lifeboat.

“The crew had been operating in rough conditions for one and a half hours, so a crew change took place with the fresh crew rescuing another vessel, the final brought ashore by an ELYC rescue boat.”

North Berwick Coastguard Rescue Team coordinated the rescue effort alongside members of the ELYC, who guided rescue assets to the capsized vessels, which were difficult to spot in the water.

The RNLI spokesperson added: “Even experienced sailors and those participating in organised activities can get caught out by sudden changes in conditions.

“Always wear a flotation device, appropriate clothing for your activity and carry a means of calling for help.

“Should the unexpected occur ensure you have an agreed emergency action plan and an understanding of when to call for outside assistance.

“In this instance the crew were pleased to find that ELYC personnel had prioritised the wellbeing of the sailors by taking them off capsized vessels once there were too many capsizes to deal with.

“This allowed the vessels to be recovered in a controlled manner.

“In any coastal emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”