A lifeboat in Cornwall was diverted from an exercise to a real life emergency this morning after coastguards received a 999 call.

A member of the public had spotted a sailing dinghy in difficulty off Penzance, with the person onboard waving for help.

The quick-thinking member of the public contacted Falmouth Coastguard via 999, who in turn sent out an alert to Penlee RNLI.

Its all-weather lifeboat ‘Ivan Ellen’ had been out already, on a practice exercise, but immediately set a course towards Penzance at 11.55am today (Saturday).

A lifeboat spokesperson said: “A member of the public noticed a person on a 14ft sailing dinghy had got into difficulties and was waving for help south of Penzance Harbour, and rightly reported this to Falmouth Coastguard.

“Penlee Lifeboat located the vessel one mile south of Penzance drifting south, in a moderate northerly wind.

“The lifeboat, with seven crew on board, towed the vessel to the entrance of Penzance Harbour.”

As it was low water, the Y-boat was launched from the Severn class lifeboat, to tow the vessel into the harbour.

Once the Y-boat was recovered, Ivan Ellen then returned to Newlyn and was ready for service again by 1pm.

Remember if you see anyone in difficulties on the water ring 999 and speak to the Coastguard.