COUNTY: Coastguards are urging seafarers to carry communication devices after a man had to swim for nearly five hours to reach shore.

His marathon effort happened because he couldn’t raise the alarm.

The MCA has advised those heading out to enjoy the waters off the Dorset coast to make sure they always have buoyancy aids, carry a VHF radio and check the times of tides and weather.

The safety warning comes after a sea kayak was spotted drifting ten miles south west of the Needles on Monday morning.

Coastguards investigated and found it had been lost the day before after the owner fell out between Portland and Ringstead.

The man spent four-and-a-half hours swimming whilst his girlfriend stayed alongside in her kayak, but they had no means of calling for assistance, coastguards said.

The pair eventually managed to get back to shore and the kayak was recovered.

A spokesman for the MCA said: “Our advice is to check weather forecasts and tidal conditions before setting out and make sure that your skill levels are appropriate for where you are going.

“Wear a buoyancy aid and check that equipment is functioning properly, and carry a VHF marine band radio so you can contact the coastguard for help via channel 16.”

He added: “Where there is good network coverage then it is worth carrying a mobile phone in a waterproof bag, and you can call 999 and ask for the coastguard if you run into trouble.”