Two fishermen feared lost at sea have returned to shore after two days missing off the Aberdeenshire coast.

James Reid, 75, and his grandson David Irvine, 35, were taken to Montrose police station following their "miracle" discovery by another boat.

There were grave fears for the men who had been due to return to Gourdon harbour on Tuesday morning and a large-scale search for them was called off last night.

But the pair were spotted by a passing fishing vessel this morning, 46 miles off the coast of north-east Scotland.

The crew of the Sylvia Bowers DS8 reported picking them up safe and sound at about 8am.

A lifeboat later brought the pair ashore to be reunited with their families.

Mr Reid's sister Dorothy Milne, who lost her nephew at sea more than two decades ago, spoke of her relief following the discovery of her brother.

Ms Milne, 72, from Bervie, said: "It's just magic, that's all I can say.

"We found out he was lost on Tuesday. My sister and I were away on a trip. I just thought, we've lost another at sea.

"I heard he had been found this morning. I was lying in my bed.

"My brother-in-law phoned and said 'I hope you're lying down', and I thought, he's about to tell me they're dead.

"He said, 'They're alive, Dot - 50 miles away they are'. It's just a dream."

She went on: "I lost my nephew Johnny Reid 25 years ago. He went out on his boat and never came back.

"He went out in the boat at Bervie, around the cliffs and that was him, never seen again.

"It's dangerous. The sea can be calm one minute and the swell can come and that's it."

A massive air and sea search was launched at around noon on Tuesday after the 16ft fishing boat Water Rail was reported overdue.

The men had set sail in the early hours and were expected to return at about 10am but got lost in fog.

Mark Spence, understood to be a crewman on the boat that found the missing men, wrote on Facebook: ''Ma night was affa boring untill we came across the two lads thats been lost at sea for 3 days now , got the lads on board safe and sound, now towing their boat to montrose to get them ashore , both men safe and sound.''

He said it was ''magic'' to find them.

The post on the Fishing News group page has garnered thousands of ''likes''.

Marcus Harvey Jr, also believed to be on the Sylvia Bowers, wrote: ''Weve just found two lads 40mile south from were they was.. there safe and well :).

''Lucky we was steaming to english channel.. lads all well an happy.. lifeboat picking them up 12noon :).''

Confirmation that the two men had been found came from police.

A spokesman said: "Police Scotland can confirm that the two fisherman, David Irvine and James Reid, missing from the Gourdon area, have been found safe and well today, approximately 46 miles off the coast of Montrose after being spotted by a passing fishing vessel."

The coastguard said the navigation gear on the Water Rail had failed, leaving the two men in thick fog, unable to tell where they were going.

Chief coastguard Richard Martin said: ''We are delighted that the two men have been found safe and well, and will be reunited with their families.

''We thank all those involved in this search and rescue operation - including the crew of the Sylvia Bowers, the fishing boat which found the men.''

Local councillor Alison Evison said: "It's wonderful, tremendous news. There is a lot of relief all round and a lot of joy.

"It's a miracle, really. Everyone's prayers have been answered."

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead hailed the discovery as "great news".

He said: ''It's times like these that really brings home how dangerous a job our fishermen do, day after day, to provide fresh fish for us all to enjoy and I am delighted that this incident has had a happy ending.''