Scarborough RNLI’s all-weather Shannon lifeboat was taken to the limits of its capabilities on one of the station’s longest rescues yesterday.
A yacht sailing from the German island of Heligoland to Newcastle had suffered engine failure 56 miles out to sea.
The crew of three on the 14m yacht Mohican 2 issued a may day call on its VHF radio, which only had a range of about 25 miles.
The SOS was relayed to the coastguard by rig-support vessel Vos Trader, which then went to the sailboat and stood by until the Shannon arrived at about 1pm, three hours after launching.
The lifeboat attached a tow rope and a casualty drogue - which is a kind of nautical parachute - to the yacht to control the distance between the two boats and avoid a collision on the long journey to shore.
The high-tech lifeboat’s speed was about 25 knots on the way out but only seven knots on the way home meaning the return voyage took about nine hours.
The yacht was positioned on the visitors’ pontoon in the harbour at about 10.30pm.
A spokesman for the RNLI said: "After rehousing the lifeboat, its crew - two full-timers and four volunteers - and the shore crew finally got to bed at about midnight."
The rescue was one of Scarborough RNLI’s longest shouts in terms of distance and time.