Exmouth RNLI Shannon class and D class lifeboats launched yesterday after a passing tug spotted a lone sailor aboard a 26′ yacht in difficulty, two miles south of Exmouth.

The inshore lifeboat launched first at 11.42am to investigate. The casualty vessel had taken on water and suffered engine failure, so Shannon class lifeboat R and J Welburn also launched at 12noon.

Crew volunteers put a salvage pump on board the yacht and the Shannon towed the sailor into the river Exe, with the D class lifeboat alongside.

The man was taken to his mooring off Starcross pier and safety advice was given. The casualty was wearing a lifejacket but his VHF radio wasn’t connected, meaning the only method of communication he had was a torch to flash SOS.

Helm, Roger Jackson said: ‘We pumped as much water out as we could, but the whole yacht was completely sodden. The casualty wanted to stay on board and fix the leak himself. His wooden yacht was very old and we advised him not to take to the sea in the same condition and without means of communication again.’

Both boats were back at station at 2pm and ready for service at 2.30pm.