THREE men had a lucky escape after they were found floating almost two miles from Worthing’s coast after 11 hours at sea.
The three men, who have not been named, were rescued by RNLI Littlehampton just after 8am on Sunday after their small dinghy was spotted off the coast by a birdwatcher.
Helmsman Andy Harris and crew Paul James and Rob Devo found the seven-foot inflatable toy dinghy with the three men aboard.
They had been afloat since 9pm on Saturday and were dressed in shorts and t-shirts, with no lifejackets, one mobile phone that was not working, and one paddle.
Nick White, Littlehampton’s volunteer lifeboat operations manager, said: “These three gents were extremely fortunate to be seen by a vigilant member of the public, and so lucky to have survived overnight with no protection and no lifejackets.
“Three fully-grown adults in a very little floating thing is not sensible in the sea during the day and these three set out at night.
“It would have been so easy for the dinghy to have been capsized by the smallest of waves.
“They were lucky there was very little swell and very little wind as just about every other day it has been windy.”
He added: “I’m sure these men will be more careful in the future and we hope this incident will make others become aware of keeping safe at sea.”
According to the rescuers, the men were disorientated having spent the night in darkness at sea, and were treated for hypothermia by the crew, before being met by the Coastguard and awaiting ambulances and taken to Worthing Hospital.