budding sailors have been left devastated after vandals destroyed two boats which were due to go out on the water this weekend.
The Dunbar Sea Cadets will miss out on activities for months to come after the “mindless” attack on the equipment at its unit in Bayswell Road.
It will cost at least £6500 to repair the two rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) which have slashes as long as 5ft on either side.
Officer in charge, Petty Officer Michael Kaszuba, said the incident “could not have come at a worse time”.
The Royal Yacht Association was due to visit the Dunbar branch in a few weeks to watch lessons before considering giving the group RYA status.
PO Kaszuba said: “We were getting the boats ready to go on the water. They have totally destroyed our big rib.
“When we lifted up the rubber, there was a 5ft slash on one side and a 4ft slash on the other. It’s just mindless damage. They put two of our ribs out of action. We were getting the Royal Yacht Association down in a few weeks time to give us status. This has put us back.
“We have got one boat on the water, but we have used them [the ribs] to teach the cadets how to handle boats and for safety cover as well. It’s going to put our seaborne activities well and truly back.
“By the time we get quotes for repairs, we are talking a couple of months. That’s us well into the summer.
“We look at conditions today, and we could have been out on the water.”
However, the 36 cadets and their officers have been inundated with support from local residents, many of whom have offered to donate money for repairs.
PO Kaszuba said: “The response has been absolutely tremendous.
“A lady stopped me in Asda and gave me £10, a gallery wants to auction off one of their paintings and a lady who wants to remain anonymous wants to donate £100. It’s just overwhelming.”
It is believed the vandals slashed the boats between 1pm on Friday, April 3 and 5pm on Sunday, April 5.
The cadets have tied a home-made sign on one of the ribs which asks: “Do you know who did this to our boat?” and urges anyone with information to get in touch with police.
PO Kaszuba said: “The whole outer ring will have to be replaced on one boat. It will cost us at least £6500 to repair them.
“The kids were just so downhearted when they saw the state of the boats.”
The Sea Cadets hope to claim on insurance – but there are concerns about the amount of excess which will have to be paid.
A police spokesman said: “This was an intentional act which will deny local young people the opportunity of having fun and learning on the water this summer.”
Anyone with information should call Police on 101.