Canoeist missing in Western Isles reports safe and sound

THE search for a missing canoeist on the west side of Lewis has been called off after the man called Stornoway Coastguard to say he was okay.

Concerns for the man’s safety were raised with the Coastguard by local villagers in Callanish who had noticed that the canoeist’s vehicle had not moved since Christmas Day.

A search was launched this morning (Monday, December 27) involving the Stornoway Coastguard search and rescue helicopter, Stornoway RNLI lifeboat, the Coastguard Rescue Teams from Stornoway, Breascelte and Miavaig, along with boats launched by local company Seatrek and fish farmers Scottish Salmon to help look for the man.

Although a note was left in the vehicle with a mobile phone number on it, no other details as to where the canoeist was going or when he expected to return were noted.

Stornoway Coastguard, along with the police, left a message on the mobile to announce that they were starting a search and for the man to get in touch immediately if he could.

Despite patchy mobile reception around the Loch Roag area, on receiving the message the man called to say he was safe and well, in no danger, and was camped on the island Bernera Beag, just north of Great Bernera.

Stornoway Coastguard say that the man is an experienced kayaker and camper and intends to be out exploring the Western Isles’ coastline for another few days.

However, they ask that in such situations, people notify the Stornoway station to avoid such costly operations being launched.

As one of the Coastguard team said: “We would ask in situations like this, whether people are experienced or inexperience, and are going on any kind of expedition, especially on their own, to call Stornoway Coastguard and give details of themselves, their vehicle, equipment such as canoes and the trip they plan to undertake.

“If people are going to be out for a couple of days, we would also appreciate an update phonecall to let us know how they are progressing – that way if anything happens we have a closer last known point than the departure point.

“And people should always let us know when they return safe and sound.”