The alarm was raised just before 5.30pm when a 7ft inflatable tender capsized while trying to reach shore to pick up the crew of a 34ft motor cruiser, which was anchored off the beach near Saltburn pier.
The Bay Dream III had sailed from Hartlepool earlier in the day. Its crew had left the craft to run ashore in the tender for a meal at the Ship Inn.
The motor cruiser's skipper, a Sheffield man, had successfully taken his wife back to the cruiser after the meal, and was returning to shore to pick up two more crew when the craft capsized.
Although unhurt, the skipper was unable to re-launch the tender because of heavy seas breaking on the shoreline, and called for help.
Redcar RNLI dispatched both lifeboats and transferred one crew member to the motor cruiser to be with the lone woman left on board. Another crew member managed to lift the craft's anchor and steered it into safer waters. Meanwhile the lifeboat picked up two more of the cruiser's crew to take them back to the vessel.
Finally the skipper was picked up and the tender towed back offshore.
Redcar RNLI spokesman Dave Cocks said: "The skipper was very lucky to be unhurt when his inflatable capsized. We had a major rescue at exactly the same spot last year when a large number of fishing boats capsized and a woman suffered a nasty head injury."