A HUGE rescue effort has been under way after a boat “completely disappeared” more than five days ago.

The red and white nine-meter Sunseeker sports boat, named Rapido, departed from Grays on April 24 on a planned voyage to Maldon in mid-Essex.

However, the boat didn’t arrive in Heybridge Basin as expected and an alert was sounded on April 25.

Paul Gilson, chairman of Leigh Town Council, and a fisherman, said it was “totally out of the ordinary” for a boat to go completely missing.

He also warned of the dangers of sailing through north easterly winds.

Paul said: “To completely disappear, it’s not something that happens often. It’s very rare.

“There’s normally some debris.

“They probably had a strong north easterly wind going round the Whitaker Spit by Foulness Island.

“They would have also passed two sand banks.

“A north easterly wind causes some quite big waves.

“It’s very unfriendly.

“It’s not a nice place to be on a nine metre speed boat.

“But to go completely missing is totally out of the ordinary.”

Despite concerns that the boat has disappeared without a trace, Paul hopes the crew managed to take some form of shelter.

“We don’t know the competence of the crew.

“The amount of time they have been missing they would normally have seen something by now.

“I’ve seen boats sink before but I can’t remember them just disappearing.

“It’s very strange.

“I hope they turned up somewhere and took some form of shelter.

“But we don’t know.”

RNLI crews from West Mersea and Burnham teamed up with the South Woodham Coastguard Rescue Team to search for the vessel.

A Burnham RNLI spokesman said: “We searched several marinas within the Crouch but found no trace of the overdue vessel.

“Several locations were checked but no trace of the vessel was found so they were stood down pending their further enquiries.”