FISHERMAN Dave Taylor was lucky to escape before his 21ft netter turned turtle in heavy seas off Paignton.
The fisherman had lashed his vessel Nemo, BM 18, to Paignton pier in the night time drama to stop it drifting ashore and breaking up on Paignton beach.
The Torbay inshore lifeboat had already lifted him to safety and the Nemo was under tow to Torquay when it turned over.
Ferryboat man Ashley Lane spotted the red flares go up at just after 3am on Sunday and was first on the scene, vaulting over the gates of the pier to shout reassurance to his friend while they waited for the lifeboat.
The fisherman was rescued by the inshore lifeboat and the netter was towed into Torquay harbour by the all-weather lifeboat.
Dave had gone to recover his fishing nets, leaving his heavily pregnant wife waiting on the quay, after reports of strong easterly winds.
The nets became fouled around the boat's propellers and she began to drift in dangerous swells towards the beach and pier.
The Nemo's radio aerial was also damaged in the incident and Dave had to set off a red flare to raise the alarm.
Ferry boat operator Ashley saw the red warning light going off over Paignton and alerted the coastguard.
"I was the go-between as it all unfolded," Ashley said.
"The Nemo was being washed ashore straight onto Paignton beach. It's very unforgiving in an easterly.
"He managed to secure himself with rope on to one of the legs of the pier, without damaging either the boat or the pier.
"I had been taking my two vessels into Torquay for safe berthing earlier in the night. I was on my way back when I saw the red flare and thought ' I hope that's not Dave'. I rang the coastguard.
"His wife is eight-and-a-half months pregnant and she was waiting for him to come back on the quay at Paignton, completely unaware of what was going on.
"We calmed her down and the landlady at the Pier Inn took her in to the warm and gave her a cup of coffee.
"The Nemo flipped over while the lifeboat was towing her through the heavy seas.
"She was secured alongside the Liberty Lass in Torquay harbour and we used our crane to put her right the next morning.
"We pumped her out and hopefully it will be back at sea by the weekend. There was a bit of damage to her electrics."
Pier Inn landlady Wendy Uglow was cleaning the pub after a late-night party when the drama unfolded in the early hours of Sunday.
She said: "I saw the lifeboat. When I heard that his pregnant wife was outside, I said to bring her in the warm.
"She was upset, obviously, and a bit shaken up."