By Lindsay Muir
The search continues for missing Aberdeen oil-pipeline engineer and yachtsman Neil Mackenzie (59) after his vessel was found moored in a remote highland sea-loch.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman today confirmed that, “…the Police are now coordinating the search and they have requested the Coastguard Rescue helicopter to conduct a search and the Mallaig lifeboat has been requested to launch.”
The 30ft single hulled yacht Solitaire, was discovered at anchor not far from Arisaig where Mr. Mackenzie had set off on Tuesday, with the intention of sailing back to Aberdeen to hand in Open University coursework. A dinghy belonging to Mr. Mackenzie was found overturned and washed ashore at Glenuig Bay.
Extensive searches of the Lochaber coastline by the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter and shoreline searches by volunteer teams on the inner Hebridean islands of Canna, Rumm, Eigg, Muck and Mull have failed to find any trace of the experienced yachtsman. A source from Stornoway coastguard said yesterday:
“There is no reason to believe he was not doing what he told his family he was doing in the area. We are winding down the search as daylight is due to fail at 7pm and tomorrow morning we will make a decision with the police over what to do next.”
Mr. Mackenzie was an experienced yachtsman of at least 30 years having piloted the Solitaire from Vancouver to New Zealand and on day trips from Arisaig where his yacht was moored. Today the Solitaire is to be towed from Mallaig back to Arisaig where a detailed police examination will take place. Northern Constabulary has expressed that the family of Neil Mackenzie ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult time.