RNLI lifeboat tows broken down vessel back to shore after it got into difficulties near Lee Bay.

Thick fog surrounded Ilfracombe RNLI's all-weather lifeboat as it launched to the aid of a yacht that was suffering from engine difficulties off Lee Bay this afternoon (Tuesday).

The all-weather lifeboat, Spirit of Derbyshire, towed the yacht through the fog back to Ilfracombe Harbour.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were paged just before 12.30pm and soon the Mersey class lifeboat was on her way to the scene.

Arriving at the casualty vessel, volunteer Coxswain, Andrew Bengey, found two people aboard the yacht, which was suffering from engine problems.

The lack of wind meant they could make no headway, and so the skipper had made the sensible decision to throw out an anchor and call for help.

Andrew put a crew member aboard the yacht to help rig a tow line, and then began the slow journey back towards Ilfracombe Harbour with the yacht behind.

“Fog like this can be very dangerous,” said Andrew.

“It can be very disorientating even for the most seasoned sailor, and we would advise people not to attempt to sail in it if possible. When you go to sea, you should always make sure your vessel is well maintained and your engines have plenty of fuel, as you never know what might happen, and it pays to be prepared for the worst.

“You should always keep a close watch on the weather forecast, and make sure that you have a means of calling for help if something does go wrong. You should never rely on the wind completely as a means of propulsion, as it changes direction and can drop in a second.”

There is sailing safety advice available on the RNLI website at www.rnli.org/safety, and for anyone drawn to the water the interactive publication Sea Safety: The Complete Guide, at www.rnli.org/complete_guide is essential reading.