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Nol receiving his RNLI Bravery award

 Interview with the intrepid Nol       

  • Nol, you’re a Dunbar man, born and bred? Aye, I was born in Room #3, The Lothian Hotel.
  • Was your family originally Italian? Yes, from Tuscany, Italy; came in the early-1900s.
  • And school? Left school at fifteen but I’d already been working for my dad in the hotel since the age of ten. Worked all my life and never a dull day, well, maybe one or two
  • And teenage years? Always in the old outdoor swimming pool, whistle round my neck, in charge of the wee boats then later as a lifeguard.
  • Note: "Nol Togneri received the RNLI Bravery award in the 1960s after saving a girl at sea, keeping her afloat until the lifeboat attended to rescue them as they were drifting out to sea. These awards are usually reserved only for RNLI crew, risking their lives at sea."
  • This video shows how Noll developed the skills needed for confidence in the water:-
  • https://www.facebook.com/paul.togneri.1/videos/10206005929422715/UzpfSTE2OTUyMTEyMDc6MTAyMDY5NDQ2NDczMzAwNzY/
  • So the old pool at Bayswell, was really ‘Baywatch’? We all remember those beauty competitions. The pool was packed in summertime.
  • Did you ever go off the high diving-board? Aye, an’ once I broke the springboard on the way doon.
  • You’re always barefoot, why’s that? Do not like wearing shoes!
  • Where did you work after the Lothian Hotel? Oh, every smart hotel, The Marine in Troon, Old Course Hotel, St. Andrews, Caledonian Hotel….
  • So, the start of a 5-star career? Aye, but sometimes catering’s a demanding life.
  • Have you worked overseas? Did an apprenticeship in Paris, in Fouquet's Brasserie, an historic restaurant on the Champs-Élysées. “Une table pour deux, monsieur?”
  • Did you work in catering all your life? No, I worked as a steel erector on the 300ft tower at Blackcastle, Innerwick, logging crew in the Borders, salmon fishing at Goswick, then Eves Taxis and buses.
  • Everyone’s seen you kayaking off and away, or disappearing in your powerboat. Where do you go? Across the bay to the Tyninghame estuary for a few camping nights, or to the Bass Rock. Tyninghame estuary has changed a lot with the sand channel shifting, very tricky now.
  • Where was your furthest kayak trip? May Isle with Doc Ballantyne.
  • She’s a nice motorboat, your “Wildfire”. When and where did you start with boats? Age of 10, first kayak. Father had a speedboat; he started a Waterski Club. Then a 20ft Cabin Cruiser for 30 years, many expeditions with the family. 20 years on the Lifeboat Crew. Is that enough?
  • Your son Paul also uses ‘Wildfire’.  Does he listen to his dad’s safety advice?  Aye, or he’ll get a clip roon his lugs if he disnae.
  • What’s your best advice to youngsters starting in boats? **Safety First** radio, lifejackets, flares, anchor. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Photo 1, Nol receiving his RNLI Bravery award from Princess Margaret. 

Photo 2, Nol dives off the Gripes; not recommended nowadays, even for fit, young men.

Click <<READ MORE>> below for photo 2

User Rating: 5 / 5

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Ewan and Fiona are a couple with a love of history and have plans to change the old Methodist Church's use but retain its historic significance. As you will probably know, it's the oldest Methodist Church in Scotland, dating back to 1764. Ewan is an architect, Fiona a former Health and Social Care lecturer, and both have a close interest in regeneration and in Dunbar in particular.

They intend using the space as a venue for small events, intimate weddings and celebrations for up to 100 people, less than the current capacity of 240. Their Planning Application shows restoration of the church to maintain all the original features. They intend using local trades people for the work, which will include a new heating system and significant roof repairs and even a film of the restoration. One of the more costly jobs will be the restoration of the stained glass windows, originally from St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, using a specialist church-restoration company who will take out the windows, refurbish and replace them. This will allow viewers to fully appreciate these windows from outside and in. The building will then be re-named ‘The Harbour Chapel’.

Photos from Fiona's archive.

Photo 1: outside of the 'Harbour Chapel'.

Photo 2: Click <<READ MORE>> below for internal view.

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On Tuesday June 16th, Dunbar’s Offshore lifeboat (ALB) crew had a late-night call out in thick fog to assist a broken-down yacht drifting in the North Sea. The Coastguard paged for RNLI help at 11.20pm after receiving a call that the 12-metre Sally Belle yacht was stranded without power 22 miles east of Torness, having suffered a cylinder-head gasket failure and no wind on this calm and foggy night.

The ALB launched from Torness and reached the vessel shortly before 1am. A tow was quickly set up and the crew made their way back to Dunbar Harbour, taking special care in poor visibility. ALB and yacht arrived back at the harbour at 5am and, after guiding the yacht to a safe berth in our Victoria Harbour, Gary Fairbairn, coxswain for Dunbar’s ALB, said: “Given the fog conditions we couldn’t take any chances but we succeeded in towing the yacht to safety without incident.”

Much more on the star-crossed Sally Belle later in this newsletter!

Photo 1 by Nick Mailer, a yacht sandwiched 'twixt 2 ALBs.

Click <<READ MORE>> for photo 2 of Sally Belle at her temporary berth, by Kenny Maule

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It all happened so very quickly starting at 11.40am on 30th May. 

Dunbar Coastguard, two Inshores (ILB) and an Offshore (ALB) plus a helicopter were tasked this morning to a small pleasure-craft near to Dunbar harbour. The vessel, with a three-man crew aboard, had suffered engine failure 200 metres northeast of the entrance to Dunbar Harbour and had begun to drift towards the rocks. What had started as a routine call-out to help a small craft quickly became a multi-agency emergency.

First, the Dunbar ILB suffered a mechanical issue soon after launching was no longer able to assist, and dropped the anchor, however a fantastic effort was made by two nearby sea-kayakers who rushed to the pleasure-craft, gave assistance and managed to pull it away from the rocks. This was a remarkable effort by them, not easy in kayaks, and undoubtedly prevented any escalation of the incident.

Dunbar’s ALB was quickly activated from Torness and North Berwick’s ILB was also called. A land ambulance attended the incident as a precaution along with 4 fire engines as the ILB had suffered a suspected engine fire.

Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 151 from Inverness, which was already airborne for a different call-out, attended the scene and circled many times just off the Battery, much to the unexpected entertainment of watching adults and children.

All parties were brought safely into Dunbar Harbour without further incident.

Quote from the RNLI: “All the agencies worked together to ensure things didn’t get out of hand.”  Note: If you see someone in difficulty, or something you are concerned about on the shoreline, beaches, cliffs, mud or water, then call 999 immediately and ask for the Coastguard.

Photo1: the kayakers (Gavin Ross and his pal) 

Click <<READ MORE>> for photo 2: the ALB.    Both photos by Kenny Maule

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Quiz:  Where is this rainy spot around the harbour?    

How did he take it? --- with a Sony A6000, slow exposure; photo credit David Drummond. Nice shot, David.

Click <<READ MORE>> for the red spot that shows the quiz answer.

Please note that anyone can send in a harbour article, preferably with photos.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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“It is with great regret that we announce the cancellation of the Sparkling Dunbar Harbour Festival due to be held on Sat 15th August 2020. However, we are delighted to announce that 2021 will see the 10th Anniversary of this fabulous annual event. We look forward to bringing you some surprises next year to celebrate a decade of fun.  A spectacular event t’will be, me hearties!”

Photo by Fraser Stewart. 


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John Sim - Director (photo1).  John is a retired Oil-industry Engineering Manager, married with two daughters and five grandchildren. A qualified Electrical Engineer supported with a Business Degree, he and his wife Madeleine relocated to Dunbar from Edinburgh in October 2019 after having spent 42 years working and living overseas in countries as diverse as Uruguay, Italy, France, USA, Egypt, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Angola, Gabon, South Korea, Singapore and India. He has always been associated with the sea since serving in the Royal Navy from 1963 to 1974.  Thereafter, he worked in the international offshore Oil and Gas industry from 1974 to 2016 managing both mobile offshore drilling units (MODU’s) and fixed offshore oil and gas installations.

Paddy Crerar CBE - Director (photo2). Paddy has been an active harbour user in Dunbar for 20 years. He is Chair of Crerar Hotels, and he and his wife farm outside Stenton. Paddy works in community related projects as a non-executive Director of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise. He is also patron of Scotland’s most supported hospitality charity.

A very warm welcome to both.      Click <<READ MORE>> for a photo of Paddy

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 Our empty harbour: "Now where’s the other end?” --- photo by Kenny Maule

Harbour Trust figures for 2019/20 financial year.

  1. Public mooring income - UP 8%.

  2. Fishing mooring income - DOWN 1%….a reflection of the change in mix to smaller boats.

  3. Fishing Landings - UP 2%…. 2019/20 was a record year for Dunbar.

  4. Launchings - UP 8%….but still down on earlier years…indicating that we still may not be catching everyone.

  5. Retail outlets  - UP 66 %.

  6. Visitor moorings - DOWN 67%.

Mooring charge credits:  The Harbour Trust is very grateful to those who have written in to say that they will leave their credit balances to be offset against next year’s mooring charges. Everyone is entitled to have a credit balance refunded to them and, if this is your wish, please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the details of the bank account into which the refund will be paid.

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On the 29th of March, three coastguard teams, Dunbar, North Berwick and Fisherrow, were tasked to reports of a person stuck on rocks after climbing at Horseshoe Point, Canty Bay. As the teams were departing, information was provided that the casualty had managed to self-extricate and required no further assistance.

Coastguard advice: “Please follow government guidance at this testing time and think about the dangers of an activity which in turn could lead to a requirement for assistance. If you see someone in difficulty or something you are concerned about on the shoreline, beaches, cliffs, mud or water, call 999 immediately and ask for the Coastguard.”

photo from Google maps

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Angus, when and where did you start sailing?  “It was a long, long time ago, in another country, far, far away.” In fact it was in the ‘70s on Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland, in a sailing dinghy.

What is more difficult: sailing or dentistry? “Dentistry is more difficult; there’s always the risk of falling down the patient’s throat and never re-appearing.”

What was your biggest race/regatta win? "East Coast Week feeder race at Blyth and The Scotsman trophy, Granton-to-Kirkwall Orkney."

Both yourself and your wife, Marie-Florence, have been Commodores of the Sailing Club. Any comments? "Nobody else volunteered so duty must be done”.

When husband and wife are both on their yacht, who is in charge? “We sail by committee: Marie-Florence on helm, Angus Cameron on sail-trim, Johnny Blyth on spinnaker, and I paid the bills and bought the drinks.”

Are all of your family sailors? “Yes, two sons, Finlay and Hector, then starting now are our grandchildren.”

Your yacht was called Nyvaig; what is the meaning? “In corrupted Gaelic it means ‘small warship’, used at the Battle of Largs, 1263, when evicting King Haakon of Norway.”

Your house is called Blawearie; what is the meaning?  “The local burn is called Blawearie (tired of the wind). The wind blew constantly whilst sorting out  the house and garden.”

What was your longest sail?  “Galle, Sri Lanka to Al Mukalla, Yemen on a pal’s yacht. Is that far enough? Too many pirates nowadays. On Nyvaig we sailed to South Brittany and back to Sunny Dunbar.”

Who are the biggest drinkers around the North Sea?  “The Norwegians can be ‘extremely immoderate’ when greeting an incoming yacht which has duty-free booze on board. However my pal ‘Norrie’ set off ‘three sheets to the wind’ and hit the Forth Bridge on a fine day with unlimited visibility. Not recommended.”

What is your advice to young sailors?  “Take lessons with an experienced instructor, on a yacht with two sails and a spinnaker. You’ll learn the essentials of sail-balance. Small dinghies are good but you can learn wee Toppers and Lasers later.”  Thank you, Angus, we'll take your advice.

Enjoy this video of Angus sailing on Nyvaig, from Dunbar to Seacliff and return https://vimeo.com/223353638. Use full-screen and volume up.

Photo: Nyvaig, spinnaker up, entering harbour (never to be repeated),

Photo credit Pamela Maule

Have any questions? Give us a call 01368 865 404