Marine News

Sent in by John Kinsman, operations manager at Coastwatch St Monans, east Fife. Featured image shows the Bell Rock lighthouse.

Dark days for Bell Rock Lighthouse

The life-saving light went out on the world famous Bell Rock lighthouse of the Angus coast.
Northern lighthouse board chiefs said a fault plunged the 211 year old shining beacon into darkness on the 19th November.

They had to wait for the right weather conditions for a helicopter to land on a rescue mission. The Bell Rock is world’s oldest operational sea washed lighthouse. It sits 11 miles off Arbroath on the Bell Rock and is clearly visible from the Angus town.
Residents noticed the light had not been operating for several days. Ships in the area were warned about the fault and the northern lighthouse board confirmed that the Bell Rock was currently not operating due to a defect.

Mariners were informed through an official notice to mariners which is issued through the Maritime and coastguard agency. The bell rock can only be accessed via a helicopter landing on a concrete platform at the base of the tower. This requires a combination of low tide, daylight and benign weather conditions.

The fault was repaired a few days later. The nature of the problem has not been revealed. Scottish civil engineer Robert Stevenson built what is renowned as one of the wonders of the industrial world to protect ships from the infamous rocky reef. The remarkable feat was completed between 1807 and 1810. The lighthouse stands 115 feet tall and its light is visible from 35 miles. Keepers manned the Bell Rock until the 1980’s when it was fully automated.


Coastwatch St Monans team are now at full strength after two locals joined the team. The new recruits brings the team members to 10. Coastwatch St Monans have been fairly busy during past month, attending incidents such as giving assistance during cliff fall, checking for overdue paddle boarders, and appearing on a radio station.

Elie Harbour

The harbour at Elie was very busy when the local boat owners lifted their craft out the harbour. A huge crane was hired to lift the boats from the water and place them on the harbour for winter storage. A large crowd of locals and late summer visitors gathered at the harbour to watch the annual lifting of boats from the water. Once again Coastwatch St Monans were on duty for safety reasons.

Injured seal on the mend

A baby seal found injured on rocks at Crail in Fife has been saved by animal welfare experts. Locals raised the alarm after the pup was in distress at Roome Bay in the village on Saturday November 20th. It was the quick thinking of those who contacted the Scottish SPCA that are to thank for the likely survival of the pup rescuers, who have now named the seal Ori.
The male pup which has a number of injuries across its body face and flipper was picked up by SPCA officers. After being given rehydration fluids he was transferred into the care of the staff at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross. An update from the centre said the pup is doing well but is quiet and sleeping under his heat lamps.

Picture shows Ori the seal

Historic Pier

A bid to stop a picturesque Fife village historic pier from crumbling into the sea has been given a significant step forward. Limekilns Trust has submitted plans to install a new path along the village pier to protect it.
The existing 16th century structure is listed on Scotland’s buildings at risk register and if left unaided is expected to become unsafe and eventually succumb to the elements.
To stop that locals have pledged to raise a six figure sum needed to carry out long lasting repairs and make sure local people and visitors can continue enjoying the pier for many years to come.

I would like to thank all readers of Voice for Arran for enjoying my marine items and I wish them all a very happy Xmas and a good new year! John Kinsman