Providing Inshore Rescue Since 1981



ESRA is staffed entirely by volunteer members of the public from all walks of life.

It isn't necessary to become "boat crew"; there are other jobs to be done, without which, the boats would never make it to the water.

Interested in volunteering with us? Click below to learn more.


ESRA is an independent charity which funds and operates an inshore lifeboat in the Dornoch Firth area. The lifeboat is crewed by volunteers.

In 1981 a group of concerned local people met to discuss setting up an organisation to provide assistance to the police in the event of water-based emergencies. There were significant concerns about the level of water-borne emergency response available. Dornoch and Embo beaches were – and still are – very popular destinations during the summer months.

A committee was set up to fund an inshore lifeboat and provide trained crew to serve the east coast of Sutherland and Easter Ross bordering the Dornoch firth.

It was only a matter of weeks after this that a seven year old girl was swept out to sea on an airbed, off Embo beach. Along with two members of the public who had gone to her aid, the girl was successfully recovered by three volunteers of the newly formed East Sutherland Rescue Association.




Our crew are are trained in all aspects of rescue at sea, in all weathers and at any time of the day or night.

During 38 years of operation, ESRA has been called out hundreds of times to a variety of situations from stranded sheep at Nigg, missing persons, broken-down boats, sea-users in difficulty and of course rescuing stranded fishers on the river Cassley as featured on the BBC 999 series.


ESRA provides cold water rescue and treatment training session for medical students working with Dr. Richard Brown at the medical clinic in Dornoch. This is something the ESRA crew do several times a year.

Under the watchful eye of Coxswain Neil Dalton and with the assistance of other crew members as casualties and crew, students are given training that may make the difference as to whether someone lives or dies after a cold water immersion incident.

This kind of training is not something these students could get in a classroom and the ESRA team is pleased and proud to do their part in preparing these young people to be better physicians.


ESRA also provides safety services for local community events. We have provided safety escort services to people undertaking charity canoe/kayak journeys through our patch.

We have also been on patrol for Skiff racing at Golspie, Helmsdale, raft races in various locations over the years, National 18s at Royal Findhorn yacht club, safety cover for Queen Mary II visit to Invergordon and for visit of HMS Helmsdale to Helmsdale.

Also, on 1st January every year, at Dornoch, people run into the water as part of the "Loony Dook". As the water is at its coldest during winter, we have personnel in the water (fully kitted up) in case any participants get into difficulty.


ESRA is staffed ENTIRELY by volunteer members of the public, from all walks of life.

We are always looking for new people to join the association, not necessarily to become "boat crew", as there are other jobs to do (without which, the boats would never get on the water).

Anyone can apply to volunteer with us. Experience is not required; just commitment and a willingness to learn and be part of a team (which is important, for we rely on each other for our combined safety when we're on the water).

You don't need to have any experince of life-saving or be first-aid trained (although these skills are always welcome) as full training will be given to individuals who show commitment to the organisation.

Are you interested in serving your community? Become a part of the independent lifeboat team that protects the Ross and Sutherland coasts, and inland waters.

ESRA is an independent lifeboat association, which means we get no funding from the government or national organisations. We depend on our volunteers and the generosity of the community to fund our operations and training. For example, the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for the crew, comprising a dry suit, life jacket and helmet, costs around £1,000.

For details, please complete the form below or contact:

Email: info@esra.uk
Phone: Antony Hope (07710 301 387) or Gareth Dixon (07775 641 616)

We look forward to welcoming you to our team very soon.