Rescue crews were called out after a dinghy capsized off the coast of Marsden in South Shields this afternoon.
The coastguard originally reported a rescue operation was carried out by Sunderland coastguard along with Tynemouth life boat team to help passengers after their boat overturned in Marsden at 3.04pm.
But it has now been established no one was aboard the vessel which is believed to have been a missing boat from a local sailing club.
A member of the public alerted rescue teams by making a 999 call earlier this afternoon.
Crews arrived on scene and took the empty boat back to shore at 3.50pm.