A YACHT crew was rescued when engine failure forced the sailors to steer their boat by hand through stormy waters.

The vessel had been sailing from Scotland to Holland when it got into difficulty near Whitby on Saturday morning at about 10.40am as it was battered by force eight gales.

The alarm was raised when the Humber Coastguard received a call from the skipper of “Warnhw”, a former pilot vessel, who said that it had engine failure and they were steering by hand to Whitby in 50mph winds.

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RNLI all-weather lifeboats from Whitby and Hartlepool were launched to rescue the eight-man crew and tow the stricken yacht to calmer waters at Tees Harbour.

Graham Dawson, Coastguard Watch Manager, said: “The weather conditions weren’t ideal for this vessel’s journey from Holland to Scotland but the situation became a lot more challenging when technical problems struck.

"The skipper did exactly the right thing by calling us on the radio to let us know about his situation before the vessel got in to real difficulty.”

Mike Russell, Whitby RNLI Coxswain, said: "The weather conditions meant this was a very challenging rescue, particularly as transferring tow ropes and drogues to another vessel can be difficult and dangerous when the wind is strong and the sea is so rough.

"But the lifeboat crews from both Whitby and Hartlepool performed admirably, putting all their training and skill into practice to make sure the rescue was carried out safely and effectively."