MARBLEHEAD (CBS) – A young girl was rescued from the water off a North Shore beach Tuesday afternoon after the float she was on drifted out to sea. Her dad tried to reach her, but strong winds carried the raft too far away.

It was a beautiful day at Preston Beach which is why a Marblehead dad brought three of his children down to play in the water. When his five-year-old girl climbed into a little raft to paddle around, it was formula for trouble. The ordeal began innocently enough at the beach that straddles the Marblehead-Swampscott line.

“The raft had high sides to it and once that gets the wind it’s just a big sail and off she goes,” said Deputy Marblehead Harbormaster Craig Smith.

Just after 2:30, a flurry of 911 calls began about a father frantically swimming after his daughter as she drifted out to sea.

A little girl was rescued after drifting away from shore in a raft (Image credit Swampscott Harbormaster)

Both the Marblehead and Swampscott harbormasters launched their boats and when they first spotted the raft several hundred yards out — their hearts sank.

“It looked unoccupied, which really concerned us,” said Assistant Swampscott Harbormaster Brendan Reen.

But that concern was short-lived because as they pulled up alongside the raft, up popped the girl. After she was pulled onboard the rescue boat, she told them the very last advice her dad shouted to her was “Stay on the raft no matter what.”

“And what a great message that is because if she left that boat or tried to do something herself, we would have had a drastic outcome,” Reen said.

The rescue effort wasn’t over, though, because it turns out the youngster’s family had commandeered another raft and were paddling their way out.

“Saw them, it turns out it was her dad and his really good friend, we scooped them up, brought them into the beach,” Smith said.

By the time rescuers brought the little girl in, she was actually in pretty good spirits, proudly telling them that the boat ride back to shore in their vessel was her first.

“She was happy to come back with us on the boat,” Reen said.

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