A RNLI hovercraft crew joined paramedics to rescue a sailor thought to have suffered a heart attack aboard his boat.

Southend lifeboat was called to help paramedics get the man, in his sixties, off his vessel and across the mud in Smallgains Creek, Canvey, on Friday night.

The paramedics – one of them a lifeboat volunteer in his spare time – tried to stabilise the man’s condition but decided they needed help to get him ashore.

With insufficient water at the rescue site for a lifeboat, the RNLI launched its search and rescue inshore hovercraft, which managed to get within 10ft of the vessel.

The crew then laid down mud mats to make their way to the boat with a stretcher. The man was taken aboard the hovercraft and ferried about 100 yards to a waiting ambulance on the Island Yacht Club slipway.

Hovercraft pilot Saxon Cronin-Garrod said “This was a good example of the emergency services working together in a situation where it was difficult to recover the casualty ashore.

“If it were not for the hovercraft at Southend, a helicopter might have been required.”