Washed-up yacht that sparked search had 'broken down'

image copyrightRNLI
image captionConcerns were raised after the vessel was found washed up in Southbourne

The owner of a washed-up yacht which sparked a major overnight air and sea search had abandoned the vessel because it broke down, police have revealed.

Rescuers spent 10 hours scouring the sea after the empty 21ft (6.5m) vessel washed up at Southbourne on Tuesday.

Dorset Police said the 40-year-old man, who was located in Christchurch on Wednesday, dropped anchor and swam ashore without informing coastguards.

Officers said the boat had developed engine problems after leaving Poole.

They said the yachtsman had dropped anchor but it became loose, allowing the vessel to drift to shore.

A helicopter and three lifeboats joined the multi-agency search after a 999 call 19:15 GMT on Tuesday reported the abandoned vessel washed up at Hengistbury Head.

The search was called off at 05:00 on Wednesday after nothing was found.

A Dorset Police spokeswoman said: "We would always advise that if anyone gets into difficulty at sea to contact the police or coastguard so we are aware and can help."

A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "Always tell someone on shore your plans or even the coastguard - details should include your passage plan, where you are going and what time you'll be back.

"If you don't arrive on time, make sure they call 999 and ask for the coastguard."

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