The Mona Lifeboat Disaster

In the early hours of 8th December 1959, the Mona Lifeboat was launched to assist the North Carr Lightship, adrift in St Andrews Bay. Much like this week, the weather conditions were exceptionally severe with strong winds and the Mona was the only boat in the area able to launch. The last radio message from the Mona was at 4.48am and she was found on Buddon Sands after disaster had struck and a helicopter had searched for her. All eight of the crew were drowned.

As The Mona was struggling to reach the North Carr, the Lightship’s crew of six were able to drop their spare anchor. They were all rescued alive and well by a helicopter the next morning, 24 hours after the first call for help had gone out. The Mona disaster was the subject of an official investigation, in which the boat was described as having been 100% seaworthy at the time of the accident.

The Friends of Dundee City Archive have extensive information including details of the brave crew who lost their lives, visit to read more.

Interestingly, we found this little tid bit on the Mona wikipedia page:

“According to a letter to the Dundee Evening Telegraph, in January 2006, “Among some seamen, it was believed the vessel was tainted with evil, and they resolved to exorcise the boat in a ‘viking ritual'”. The Mona was taken to Cockenzie harbour on the river Forth in the dead of night, stripped of anything of value, chained to the sea wall, and burnt. The burning was done with the knowledge and permission of Lord Saltoun, the chairman of the Scottish Lifeboat Council. Questions were raised in the House of Commons about the destruction of a lifeboat built with public subscription.”

The incident (the disaster and life of the Mona, not the burning) was recorded in song by Peggy Seeger in The Lifeboat Mona, by The Dubliners:

– DD Tours operates walking tours in Dundee city, covering dark local history such as wars, battles, murders, diseases, riots, disasters and executions. Walk with us for an unforgettable storytelling experience.



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