A helicopter dispatched to rescue what appeared to be a yachtie in trouble on Welcome Bay yesterday turned to be a false alarm with very good intent.

Multiple calls to emergency services by residents who spotted a small sailing dinghy capsize in gusty conditions did not take account of the chest-deep water.

The helicopter responded and after hovering over the dinghy concluded that its services were not required. The young yachtie was able to wade back to shore.

A relative of the yachtie said the boat tipped over and filled with water until it could not be righted.

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The man, who declined to be named, waded out, bailed out the dingy and then hauled it ashore at Maungatapu's Rotary Park - opposite to where the dinghy had been launched on the Welcome Bay side of inlet.

He said the young man from Welcome Bay and his mates were out learning to sail on a safe stretch of the harbour because it was so shallow.

Two of the yachtie's friends, agreed it was a good safe spot to learn to sail. They were watching from shore when they saw the boat capsize.

They originally intended to leave the yacht where it was and retrieve it at low tide, but then the helicopter arrived.

The tide was going out when the boat overturned at about 12.40pm.