HARTLEPOOL’S lifeboats assisted in the rescue of a yachtsman after his vessel caught fire in the North Sea.
The town’s inshore and all weather lifeboats, manned by volunteer crew, went to the aid of the man, who was on a life raft, aid after he reported his 36-feet Bavarian yacht had gone up in smoke at 5.45am on Friday.
Humber Coastguard also received a number of 999 calls from the public and local vessels in the area who could see the smoke plumes and the yacht on fire.
Watch Manager Mark Ellis said: “When we spoke to this gentleman, it was clear that he was foreign, but through broken English we were able to instruct him to discharge his personal locator beacon (PLB) which gave us an exact location. However due to the highly visible smoke on scene many vessels were already en route to assist.
“When the man was located he had his lifejacket on and was on his life raft.
“The rescue helicopter reached him first and winched him to safety.”
Tynemouth RNLI and Seaham Coastguard Rescue Team were also involved and a rescue helicopter from Bulmer was also dispatched.
The incident took place around 15 nautical miles off the coast of Sunderland and the man was taken to Seaham.