A JUGGLER dropped a clanger and found himself in a tricky situation when a sea rescue attempt turned into a farce.

Rescuers were left baffled yesterday when the man they tried to rescue failed to follow instructions and found himself stranded in the sea.

When a lifeboat crew finally managed to pull the man - who minutes earlier had been seen juggling on the beach - to safety, he jumped back out of the boat and began swimming away.

The drama began when the Atlantic 75 class lifeboat, Leicester Challenge 2, was called out shortly after 2pm yesterday.

The man, who was wearing a bright yellow shirt, had been seen juggling as he walked along the bottom of cliffs in Saltburn, east Cleveland, before disappearing from sight around Huntcliffe, a well known cut-off point.

As the lifeboat arrived, the man was seen trying to swim to safety.

RNLI volunteer helmsman Tony Wild said: "We gave the man instructions to swim back to shore so that we could take charge of the situation.

"We train regularly for this type of rescue and by far the best thing is for the person to remain on dry land."

But despite the instructions, the juggler continued to swim towards the lifeboat and struggled with crew members as they tried to pull him into the boat.

He then broke free from their grasp and began to swim dangerously close to the boat's propellers and the engines were stopped immediately.

"That put us in a very precarious position," said Mr Wild.

"So, as soon as the man had swum clear of the propellers, we restarted the engines and repositioned the lifeboat.

"By now he was swimming towards the base of the cliffs with nowhere safe to come ashore, so we had to quickly get the man into the lifeboat."

After finally managing to get the man onboard, he jumped from the lifeboat and began to swim away.

He was later apprehended by a beach lifeguard.

The officer in charge of the RNLI operation, Dave Cocks, deputy launching authority at Redcar, said: "This was certainly an unusual and difficult rescue for the crew.

"Usually, the people we rescue are more than glad to remain in the lifeboat once they are rescued. But in this case the man had other ideas.

"The crew dealt with the situation very professionally and this rescue certainly tested their training and experience.