The Loss of the fishing vessel "Solway Harvester"

Editorial Comment , Manx Independent , Friday 14 January 2000

"It's tragic enough that seven trawlermen lost their lives when the Solway Harvester went down off the Island. It's even more devastating that three of the young men who've drowned come from the same family in the tiny village of the Isle of Whithorn, population just 500.

You can see the Isle of Man from the harbour there on a clear day, but the ferocious conditions in the Irish Sea on Tuesday night meant the trawler couldn't even battle to the safety of Ramsey to shelter. All that' s so far been found of their 21-metre boat are the emergency beacon and two unopened liferafts. How the men lost their lives as they headed for home after their two-day trip may never be known, although a full investigation has already begun. But one thing is certain - the hearts of everyone in the Island, not just those whose lives are allied to the sea, go out to the families of the Wigtownshire men, including a seven months pregnant woman now widowed. Surrounded by sea, and with our fine fishing tradition, we are all too aware how unpredictable and unforgiving the Irish Sea can be.

The volunteer crews of four local lifeboats were out for many hours in horrendous conditions to search for the Solway Harvester and her crew. Their selflessness and bravery, and that of others who aided the search, should be an inspiration to all of us.

On Sunday a packed St George' s Church, Douglas, paid homage to lifeboat founder Sir William Hillary, who set up the RNLI 176 years ago after witnessing tragedies at first hand from his home on Douglas Head. How sad that just two days later the latest loss of life should serve to remind us how vital to our Island his legacy is."

Reproduced by kind permission of Isle of Man Newspapers

Details of the search for the trawler

16 January 2000