'Perfect' proposal on the high seas

IT WAS a perfect marriage proposal, sipping champagne in a boat on a sunset sea - and the bride said 'yes.'

IT WAS a perfect marriage proposal, sipping champagne in a boat on a sunset sea - and the bride said 'yes.'

But the romantic moment came to an abrupt end when a lifeboat arrived.

Surfer Colin Howell, 35, popped the question to long-term partner Miriam Light, 26, off the shore at Cromer.

Armed with a champagne picnic and roses, the couple took their love boat to sea for the magic moment.

But as they romanced on the North Sea waves, their 10ft rowing boat drifted a mile-and-a-half offshore - and a well-meaning caller on shore raised the alarm with coastguards.

A nearby fishing boat with a coastguard on board, and the Cromer inshore lifeboat turned up to escort the couple back to shore.

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But Mr Howell, a keen surfer, insisted he and his freelance photographer girlfriend were both strong swimmers and were never in any trouble on Friday evening.

"We knew what we were doing," he said. "I had been waiting for a calm day and last night seemed perfect.

"I paddled out and got past Cromer Pier, then brought the oars in and got down on one knee.

"It was perfect. Miriam cried and said: 'yes'. It was wonderful.

"I had bought a vintage diamond ring and it fitted Miriam perfectly. The sun was setting, we even had a rainbow.

"Then, about 10 minutes later, our plans were disrupted when a man on a fishing boat said the coastguard had been called and that he would take us ashore.'

By now, a small crowd had gathered on the beach to watch the rescue operation.

"I was dressed in a tweed waistcoat and bow tie,' said Mr Howell, who works as a currency designer in London.

"I have quite a few friends in Cromer and thought 'this is not what I want to be seen to be doing'.

"There were a few cheers when we got back to the beach.'

A coastguard spokeswoman said the lifeboat crew was "surprised' when they met the couple.

"Instead of the normal garb, they had evening wear on,' she said. "It wasn't quite what they expected to find.

“Obviously congratulations are in order.”