FALMOUTH Coastguards were sold down the river by a distress beacon this morning.

Coastguards and Falmouth lifeboat made emergency missions to Truro just before 8am, only for the distress signal to be later tracked to Falmouth Docks.

A spokesman said: "The first satellite signal gave us a position up river towards Truro, but we later discovered it was stationed towards Falmouth and the signal was coming from the docks.

"Nobody was in difficulty and there was nothing untoward found. We are working with the docks to determine where it came from, possibly in store or on a life jacket."

If a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) has GPS, the exact location can be determined instantly.

However, those beacons without GPS rely on satellite passes to highlight their location.

This morning, the first satellite signal only alerted the coastguard to an area with a ten-mile radius, but once the second satellite had passed they were able to pinpoint it to the docks.

James Instance, Duty Controller for HM Coastguard said: "We believe the PLB may have been triggered accidentally or there’s a possibility that it may be faulty, which is why it is sending the alerts.

"We treat any beacon alert as a potential emergency and so will carry out a search and rescue operation accordingly, until we can establish another reason for the PLB alert going off." 

The PLB was registered and coastguards has made contact with the vessel owners, who are safe and well.

However, they confirmed the PLB, which is attached to a lifejacket, is not with the vessel, so a search is taking place to try to establish whether the PLB has been triggered by someone else.

Coastguards are appealing to anyone who might have triggered the PLB accidentally this morning to come forward and let them know they are safe and well.

A spokesman from Falmouth Coastguards added: "If someone accidentally activates a distress beacon, we would ask them to turn it off as quickly as possible and phone the coastguard to let us know it has gone off.

"We have to respond to these signals straight away because it could be a question of time - a good recent example of that was an incident involving a kayaker whose life was saved when his beacon went off."

The kayaker was knocked unconscious in Carrick Roads in January.

Both RNLI Lifeboats were tasked to search for him following a personal distress beacon signal received.

He had hit his head and was knocked unconscious.

When he came round, he had drifted away from sheltered waters near Mylor and subsequently capsized from the kayak into the water.

He was unable to get back into the kayak and wisely held on to it, using his personal distress beacon and mobile phone that he was carrying to call for help and be rescued.