A FAMILY of four have thanked lifeguards after their boat sank near Lyme Regis when their dog refused to get onboard.

Joe Coles, 56, has spoken out after crew from the Lyme Regis RNLI lifeboat rescued his family and his dog, and took them to the safety of the shore.

Mr Coles, from East Coker near Yeovil, with his wife Tania, sons Theo, 9, and Hector, 10, were onboard his 18-foot vessel, called Llewellyn, when it was swamped by waves and sank. The family left Lyme Regis and were heading towards Charton Bay on Tuesday evening, when the incident took place.

Also on board was 14-month-old Labrador, Suki, who Mr Coles believes should take some of the blame for the family getting into difficulty.

He said: "We had been having a picnic and were close to shore.

"Suki would not get on the boat. We got out of the boat to get the dog and two big waves hit the yacht and pretty much sank it."

He added: “We were all safely ashore but wet and cold, and very pleased when we saw the lifeboat. The whole thing was Suki’s fault, really.”

The family had left Lyme just as the Red Devils parachute team were performing their display as part of Lifeboat Week in front of a packed seafront.

A spokesman for Lyme Regis RNLI, said: "The lifeboat crew brought the family back to the safety of Lyme Regis.

"Later it was decided it was too unsafe to tow the stricken yacht back to Lyme Regis. The lifeboat crew secured the yacht by anchor a quarter of a mile off Pinhay Bay. This was the 13th shout for the Lyme Regis crew so far this year."

While the RNLI crew were assisting the Coles, the lifeboat crew lost a water polo match as part of Lifeboat Week, a result put down to a lack of players.

The spokesman added: "The lifeboat had launched from the slipway at 6.50pm just as the Lifeboat Week charity auction was underway in the boathouse.

"But later the water polo match between the lifeboat crew and the lifeguards was affected by a shortage of players. A depleted lifeboat crew team lost by a large margin, according to players."