A BROKEN-down fishing boat nearly sparked a major search operation after its engine broke down in Lyme Bay.

The Coastguard helicopter and the Weymouth RNLI lifeboat were both launched to find the boat, called Sole Trader, which was found approximately 29 miles south-west of Portland Bill.

The boat's engine had broken down shortly after 11.30am today (Friday, April 18), and because they were so far out to sea, they couldn't get a mobile phone signal meaning they had active the personal locator.

After an hour searching for the boat, the lifeboat and helicopter managed to locate it and assisted the boat back to Weymouth.

Both people aboard were unharmed.

A spokesman from Portland Coastguard said: “Falmouth Coastguard received a signal from a personal locator beacon on a fishing vessel called Sole Trader.

“We then tried to locate the vessel, by launching the Coastguard helicopter and the RNLI Lifeboat from Weymouth to locate the fisherman.

“They found the vehicle was safe and the two people on board were safe, but the boat had suffered engine failure.

"They were about 28 miles south west of Portland Bill, so they were too far off the coast for mobile phone signal and had to activate their personal locator.

“Thankfully they did that because if they didn't, it could have been quite a major search later on.”