A DAY out on Cramond Island for three families almost ended in tragedy when six people had to be pulled from the freezing water after being caught out by the tide.
Queensferry lifeboat arrived on the scene to find six people in the sea, with the water up to their chests, attempting to wade from the island to the shore, carrying children, as the tide was coming in fast.
It is understood one teenager in the group attempted to make it ashore but turned back and waited on the island for help.
Three people – two adults and a child with a slight injury had already made it back to the mainland.
But a further six people were stranded on the island and had to be rescued.
A total of 15 people, including four children aged between four and 12, were taken ashore by the lifeboat.
The people in the water had been at risk from hypothermia or drowning.
Hamish Campbell, spokesman for RNLI Queensferry lifeboat station, said the situation could have had tragic consequences if the rescue team had not arrived so speedily.
He said: “The teenager was in quite a distressed state. She had to be comforted by the lifeboat crew and was later reunited with her family and friends.
“There were two families that were picked up from the waters. They were up to their chests in water and a four-year-old boy was on his dad’s shoulders.
“This could have been very bad if the lifeboat had not got there when it did, because the tide comes in rapidly.”
The rescue was co-ordinated by Aberdeen Coastguard, who said one group of four adults and two children were in shock after the sea reached chest height.
The Cramond Bistro opened its doors to help the rescued families warm up after their ordeal.
An ambulance treated the injured child and a woman with a suspected sprained ankle.
Visitors to Cramond Island, which is accessed by a causeway which is covered by the tide, are warned to be careful they do not get cut off.
But there are frequent rescue call-outs after people fail to leave before the tide comes in.
Just last month, three members of folk band Stringjammer had to be rescued by the coastguard after tidal water trapped them on the island. They had been trying to find secluded practice space after receiving noise complaints.
And in September, the new RNLI Queensferry lifeboat had to rescue 11 people from the island on its first day in operation.
Mr Campbell said: “The advice given to anyone is check the tide tables before setting off.
“If trapped by the fast incoming tide, stay on the island and call for assistance. It is extremely dangerous to attempt to wade ashore as the water rises very quickly,
“We get called out fairly regularly to Cramond Island. We’ve got to get there as quickly as possible because people might try to get ashore themselves, which is very dangerous, especially when the water is as cold as it is now.”