Crew from two boats rescued

LIFEBOATMEN, coastguards and the RAF sped into action after receiving reports of a boat sinking off the Suffolk coast.The Sweet Promise, a 32-ft yacht with one man on board, broadcast a Mayday distress signal at around 7.

LIFEBOATMEN, coastguards and the RAF sped into action after receiving reports of a boat sinking off the Suffolk coast.

The Sweet Promise, a 32-ft yacht with one man on board, broadcast a Mayday distress signal at around 7.30pm last night while it was 17 miles from the shore at Felixstowe.

The sailor said that the yacht was taking on water and was sinking.

Thames Coastguard, based at Walton on the Naze, alerted the Harwich RNLI lifeboat crew who launched from the port just 10 minutes later.

Meanwhile a Sea King rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham was also scrambled to the boat's aid.

At about 8.50pm last night Rod Shaw, of Harwich Lifeboat, said the situation was under control and hopefully the yacht could be saved and towed to shore.

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He said that at around 8.45pm a lifeboatman made it onto the Sweet Promise to assist the sailor while the helicopter hovered overhead ready to winch them to safety if the boat sank.

"The mayday call gave his position with some accuracy so the boat must have GPS navigation equipment," Captain Shaw said.

"However, we know very few details about the man on board because he is so busy trying to pump the water out of the boat.

"The location of the incident is between the Sunk Light Vessel and the Inner Gabbard sandbank."

Captain Shaw added: "It sounds like a classic sailing boat, like one of those on the Onedin Line - it has two masts and a large bow sprite."

Last night a spokeswoman for Thames coastguard said at around 9pm: "The helicopter has now been released, and Harwich Lifeboat are still on scene.

"As well as the lifeboat, three other vessels did respond to the Mayday, including the Harwich pilot vessel which was diverted.

"They stood by until the lifeboat got there."

The lifeboat remained in attendance until about 10pm.

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