A LIFEBOAT crew carried out a rescue with a difference yesterday.

The Redcar D-class inshore lifeboat, Peterborough Beer Festival, was called to the assistance of a dive boat which had broken down a quarter of a mile offshore from the lifeboat station.

While the crew was being assembled, a passing fishing boat offered to tow the stricken rigid inflatable back to the shore, so the lifeboat was not required.

But things took a turn for the worse immediately afterwards, when the dive team, from Huddersfield and Tadcaster, attempted to shift their boat on to its trailer.

Their Land Rover Discovery 4x4 became bogged down in the sand, with a rapidly rising tide. The divers' second vehicle, also a 4x4, was sent to the beach to assist, however the rising sea water also bogged down this vehicle.

A watching Redcar fisherman offered his assistance to tow the second vehicle from the sea using his fishing boat tractor, while the Redcar lifeboat station's launching tractor sprang into action with volunteer crew member Derek Robinson at the wheel.

The tractor made easy work of recovering first the Discovery, with the interior partially filled with water and sand, then the trailer and boat.

Dave Cocks, deputy launching authority, was in charge of the operation.

He said: "It's not uncommon for us to use our lifeboat launching tractor to help pull a brokendown boat clear of the sea, especially when the tide is rising as quickly as it was today.

"The volunteer crew train for almost every eventuality at sea. It puts them in good stead when something out of the ordinary like this happens. We're used to rescuing boats, but a 4x4 is a little more unusual.

"What's even more amazing is that both vehicles managed to splutter into life ready for the long journey back to West Yorkshire."