A 15-metre trawler had to be held in position by its sister vessel last night while the lifeboats towing it re-fuelled.
The Olivia Belle started having steering problems at around 1.30am on Monday morning in the Bristol Channel.
Ilfracombe and Appledore all-weather lifeboats were sent out the tow the vessel to safety but had to return to their respective harbours to re-fuel.
Josie Grace, Olivia Belle's sister vessel, was sent out to hold the trawler in position just off Ilfracombe until high tide when she was safely towed in.
A Swansea coastguard spokesperson said Ilfracombe's inshore and all-weather lifeboats brought the trawler into Ilfracombe harbour, which is her home port, at around 9.30pm.
Ilfracombe Coxswain Andrew Bengey said: “The team work showed by the crew was amazing, especially in the very testing conditions.
"It goes to show all the training we do is worthwhile and certainly helped bring the Our Olivia Belle back to a safe haven."