Humber Coastguard paged Howick Coastguard Rescue and the RNLI at Craster and Amble just after 11pm on Tuesday after a report of red flares off Rumbling Kern.
The team conducted a shoreline search and also liaised with the first informant, who said that four red flares had been seen between Rumbling Kern and The Bathing House.
The two lifeboats conducted a search of the sea in the area and found a yacht, with all lights extinguished, anchored up.
The lifeboat crew spoke to the occupant of the yacht, who denied setting off any flares. No other vessel was in the area at the time.
Further investigations revealed nobody was in distress and investigations are ongoing
A post on the Howick Coastguard Rescue Facebook page said: 'Setting off distress flares in a non-emergency situation is not only reckless but also illegal.
'In this instance a Coastguard Rescue Team and two lifeboats were tied up for over two hours when their services could have been needed for a genuine emergency.
'The first informant did exactly the right thing by calling 999 and asking for Coastguard and if you ever see what you think are distress flares never hesitate to call us
'Remember, in an emergency at sea or on the coast, or if you think someone may be in difficulty, always call the Coastguard by dialling 999.'