Lifeboat crews were forced to abandon a weekly training exercise to rescue two people stranded in the sea near Blackpool Tower.
Blackpool RNLI was called out to assist a stranded dinghy after its engine failed, leaving the two people on board with no way of getting back to shore.
The wind had blown the dinghy three miles out to sea by the time the RNLI volunteers arrived on Wednesday evening. The boat was towed back to shore at Cleveleys.
Blackpool RNLI spokesman Paul Parton said: “The casualty made a 999 call and reported that they were one mile offshore with engine failure. However, there was a strong offshore wind and they were in fact more than three miles offshore.
“If they had not made their phone call when they did they could have drifted out of mobile phone range and without VHF radio they would have had no means of calling for help.”
Tony Clare, RNLI coastal safety manager for the north of England, added: “With more people losing their lives at the coast each year than are killed in cycling accidents, we’re trying to make people, particularly men, realise that they are at risk from drowning if they don’t follow some basic but important safety advice.”
The RNLI this week launched its Respect the Water campaign after the number of people who died at sea hit a four-year high.