A THREE-HOUR search to find a boat reported to be in trouble was called off last night - after its owner was found via Facebook.
The sea search, from Portsmouth Harbour along Southsea seafront and out to Spitbank Fort, was sparked when a Wightlink ferry captain reported seeing a boat disappear out of view in dark and dangerous conditions.
A call was put in to the Solent Coastguard, which decided to launch a search to find the vessel.
At 6.20pm, the Gosport Independent Lifeboat operated by the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) joined the search, along with the Gosport Lifeboat, Portsmouth RNLI Lifeboat and the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter.
Together they scoured the area for over three hours.
Meanwhile the Coastguard had launched a hunt on land to locate the owner of the Nauty 1, a sailing catamaran believed to be the missing vessel.
After numerous phone calls, which were missed by the owner, a friend contacted him via Facebook and prompted him to get in touch.
The owner was located at a family get-together at Gunwharf Quays at around 9.15pm and the search was called off.
A spokesman from the Coastguard said: ‘Because it was dark, the ferry had seen some lights which had then disappeared from view. As it was bumpy, he didn’t know if the vessel had made it back or not so he quite rightly called it in and we had to make sure there was nothing out there. The owner was located via Facebook, which shows the power of social media, and everybody was safe, that’s what is most important.’