THREE people who sailed out of Penzance in a cabin cruiser with no lifejackets or flares and who lost their anchor when their engine failed were rescued by Penlee lifeboat crew on their first 'shout' of 2013.
'Codballs' was spotted by a watchkeeper at the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) half a mile off Gwennap Head, near Land's End, as it was drifting out to sea just after 10am on Sunday morning.
The watchkeeper called Falmouth Coastguard who alerted Penlee's all weather lifeboat crew to the stricken vessel, while they were out on their regular Sunday morning exercise in Mount's Bay.
Laurie Williamson, press and publicity co-ordinator for the NCI at Gwennap Head said: "It looked like the crew were trying to start the engine but there seemed to be a problem.
"The crew waved to the watchkeeper who acknowledged them and phoned the coastguard. They were drifting out to sea. The tide was taking them off towards the Scillies.
"That is exactly what the NCI was set up for - to take a local difficulty and prevent it from becoming a crisis or a tragedy."
Penlee coxswain Patch Harvey said the 17ft boat had suffered engine failure near Porthcurno. The three crew members threw out an anchor, but had little rope so it went over the side and they began to drift with the tide, he said.
"They didn't have any lifejackets," he said. "They launched the boat from Penzance at the top of the Spring tides in probably the worst place. They had no local knowledge and no safety equipment."
The all weather lifeboat reached the cabin cruiser just after 10.30am and took the crew onto the lifeboat, towing the boat back to Newlyn, where it arrived at around 1pm.
Mr Harvey said the three crew members were then given a talking to by the Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team about safety equipment.