AN ANGLER washed off rocks near Tintagel Head on New Year's Eve spent nearly an hour in rough wintry seas before being rescued by the RNLI.
The man, aged 36 and identified only as Rob, from Devon, was brought into Boscastle by the Port Isaac inshore lifeboat and taken by road to Derriford Hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia.
Walkers saw him swept into the sea just below the Camelot Castle Hotel and alerted Falmouth coastguards.
Manned by volunteers Andy Cameron (helm), Nicky Bradbury and Matt Main, the D-class lifeboat Copeland Bell launched into a heavy swell and recovered the man as night was falling.
"He'd been swept a long way out, and with the heavy seas and the light fading it was difficult to find him," said Port Isaac lifeboat spokesman Bob Bulgin.
"He was in a serious state and needed urgent medical attention. If he'd been in the sea for another five minutes he could have been gone."
The lifeboat was damaged during the rescue, and with sea conditions building it was decided to leave it in Boscastle, from where it was retrieved by road the next morning.
After reports suggesting someone else might be in the water a helicopter team spent a further 30 minutes searching before finding a life ring, which an onlooker may have mistaken for someone in the sea.
Phil Tidy, lifeboat operations manager at Port Isaac, said: "A lifeboat can be repaired, but the damage is minor compared to the threat that was facing the poor man who was in the water.
"The crew did extremely well to find and rescue him, and that's the best news for all of us. To know we helped someone in trouble is a good way to see in the new year."
Boscastle harbour master Chris Key has written to congratulate the RNLI volunteer crew, saying they demonstrated courage and ability of the highest calibre.