A LIFEBOAT crew rescued a broken down fishing boat in difficult conditions 30 miles off the Harwich coast.

Harwich RNLI launched the all weather lifeboat just after 5pm on Sunday to help a 14-metre fishing boat which had broken down and needed assistance as daylight was fading.

The lifeboat made the best speed possible in the difficult conditions which saw strong gusts of winds exceeding 25 knots.

It took the crew more than an hour to arrive at the scene after the call due to the “washing machine” seas.

A tow was established and the lifeboat turned to head back to Harwich.

Conditions remained uncomfortable for the passage back to the safety of Harwich Harbour, and at times it was difficult to achieve a speed of just five knots.

Neal Sandquest, Harwich RNLI coxswain, said: “I have to say ourselves or the fishing vessel must have had someone looking down on us.

“We had lots of breaks that worked for us, the drift of the fishing vessel just missed the Galloper bank and wind turbines, and somehow we got the tow established straight away on our second pass.

“A following sea on the way home and thankfully the Navyard could accommodate the casualty vessel with its 3.9m draft.

“So a good job well done by all, including the crew and launch authority that turned out to meet us when we got back, it was really great to see.”

At just after 1am yesterday, the fishing boat was secured at the Navyard, in Harwich.

The lifeboat returned to its berth and was then refuelled and made ready for service.

Harwich RNLI press officer Daniel Sime said: “It was a long and uncomfortable evening for the crews of both the lifeboat and fishing vessel, with one of our volunteers describing it as being in the washing machine.

“This was the third evening in a row that our volunteers have been paged for a launch, so certainly a busy time but it’s what we’re here for.’

“With a 14 metre fishing vessel broken down, with daylight fading and very uncomfortable conditions, it is not a good place to be and our volunteers were pleased to be able to help and bring the vessel and its crew to safety.”