A LIFEBOAT crew was called to rescue the occupants of a boat following a mayday distress call.

Harwich RNLI crew's pagers were activated shortly before 11pm on Sunday following a distress call from a 42ft motor boat.

The boat had a failed engine and a loss of power to navigation lights and equipment.

These problems, combined with doubts over the vessel's position in the water, made the occupants of the boat call the coastguard.

As the lifeboat approached the area where the boat was reported to be, attempts were made to narrow down the position using direction finding equipment.

But limitations in radio equipment made the direction finding harder so a flare was fired from the casualty boat.

The flare helped the lifeboat close in on the motor boat's position.

The motor boat was able to proceed on a single engine and stayed close to the lifeboat for the passage back into Harwich.

Both the lifeboat and casualty vessel were safely back in Harwich Harbour, shortly before 2am.

Daniel Sime, Harwich RNLI volunteer press officer, said: "The occupants did exactly the right thing in requesting assistance given the circumstances they found themselves in.

"Issues with an engine, leading to a loss of power to navigation lights and equipment, and in an area very close to the main channel used by large commercial vessels running in and out of Harwich, Ipswich and the Port of Felixstowe, all adds up to a significant level of risk.

"Despite the communication limitations at times, having a means of calling for help in the first place was absolutely vital, and having the added backup of flares helped further with the lifeboat crew locating the vessel."