LIFEBOAT volunteers joined a multi-agency search in rough conditions after reports of a kite surfer in difficulty in the sea off St Osyth.

Crews feared the worst for one surfer, but it turned out an object floating in the water was balloons attached to seaweed.

Clacton RNLI crews launched their Atlantic ans D Class inshore lifeboats at the request of the UK Coastguard on Tuesday at 12noon following reports of a surfer being in trouble off Point Clear.

On launching into the rough seas, helmsman Tim Sutton requested the assistance of the coastguard helicopter due to the difficult conditions that the search would have to be conducted in.

After a thorough search of area from sea, air, and land by the emergency agencies involved, nothing was found except two body boards tied to a buoy, and a pair of balloons caught in a clump of seaweed.

The D Class lifeboat crew then spoke to a man who was spotted on the shore in a wetsuit.

He confirmed he and three others had been out on tee sea, but they were now safely ashore.

He also reported seeing no one else out on the water.

Mr Sutton said that after further questioning of the first informant it was believed that, due to its position, the buoy behind the body boards was mistaken to be a head.

“On this occasion it appears to have been a false alarm with good intent," he said.

“We would always ask people to report anything untoward to the coastguard, even if they were not sure.

“We would rather be called out to a false alarm with good intent than not at all when someone needs our help.

“The balloons attached to the seaweed had us going until we were nearly on top of it.”

Both lifeboats were stood down to return to station, where the Atlantic inshore lifeboat had to perform a net recovery due to the rough conditions.

The manoeuvre sees a catch net is strung across a trailer and the lifeboat is recovered front end first.

Both lifeboats were recovered and ready for service again by 3pm.