THE skipper of a small yacht that lacked vital equipment had to be rescued off the Yorkshire coast overnight.

The vessel - named Don't Panic - had no lights, no VHF radio, no GPS, no flares and a broken-down engine, said Scarborough RNLI.

Spokesman Dave Barry said the skipper managed to get a signal on his mobile phone and rang the coastguard on 999, then used the light on his mobile phone to attract the attention of the lifeboat crew.

Mr Barry said that had the skipper not got a phone signal, he could have been blown him into the shipping lane, putting himself in grave danger.

He told the 999 operator he thought he was a quarter of a mile offshore when he got into difficulties, and the boat’s engine had a mechanical failure.

The lifeboat launched at 1.02am today, found the yacht by radar a mile and a half east of the harbour, and homed in on it with the help of the light on the skipper’s phone. The yacht was towed back to Scarborough.

York Press:

Don't Panic, back in Scarborough this morning

John Senior, lifeboat operations manager, said: “It is imperative that any leisure craft putting out to sea should have a fully functional VHF marine radio and flares as a bare minimum.

“There is no legal requirement for leisure craft but we would strongly advise that such vessels always have a means of sending out a distress call other than a mobile phone, which should be used only as a back-up.

“We also recommend that if you are going at night or dusk, you have lights and have informed someone ashore of your intentions.”