VOLUNTEER lifeboat crews rushed to the aid of a sailor after his home-built catamaran was dragged along by gale force winds in the Walton backwaters.

Walton and Frinton RNLI was tasked to the aid of the 18-metre vessel after it was hit by winds of up to 50mph on Friday.

Dover Coastguard received reports that the vessel, which had been anchored in Hamford Water, had been blown onto the beach at Horsey Island after it dragged its anchor at about 2.20pm.

Once on scene, the lifeboat’s smaller Y class inflatable was deployed to approach the beach and pass a tow to the casualty.

With the tide rising the all-weather lifeboat, the Irene Muriel Rees, then towed the catamaran clear and into the main channel.

After talking to the occupant of the vessel it was decided to tow the catamaran to safe harbour at Titchmarsh Marina.

With northerly winds gusting a severe gale force nine, the lifeboat’s coxswain requested additional assistance from local work boats from Bedwell and Co, Frank Halls and Son and Titchmarsh Marina to help control the vessel through the closely packed moorings in the river.

The lifeboat was also met by the Walton Coastguard Rescue Team, who assisted with mooring the vessel at the marina.

Coxswain Trevor Halls said: ‘This was a challenging shout as the catamaran had no steerage and was therefore difficult to control.

"We are very grateful to the crews of the work boats who came out to assist in difficult conditions and the coastguard rescue team for their turn out."