Smith Point Sea Rescue Report

Smith Point Sea Rescue vice president Jim Bullard reported crews recently responded to the following calls for assistance.

May 10: At 2 p.m., the captain of a 35-foot sailboat called the sheriff to report he was dead in the water in Cockrell Creek and needed assistance. Rescue 1 was dispatched from the Sea Rescue boathouse in Reedville and determined that the sailboat had wrapped a crab pot line around its propeller. The sailboat was towed to a nearby marina for repairs. Time on call, 1 hour.

May 20: At 10:55 a.m., the sheriff received a call from the captain of a 36-foot Beneteau sailboat from Hartfield with two aboard. The captain reported he was near Smith Point Light and his engine had failed. Rescue 1 was dispatched from Reedville, located the sailboat and towed it to Jennings Boatyard in Reedville for electrical repairs. Time on call, 1 hour.

May 20: At 4:15 p.m., the captain of a 42-foot Endeavour sailboat traveling from Tangier Island radioed that he was disabled in the mouth of the Great Wicomico River. Rescue 1 located the craft with two on board and determined the boat had wrapped a crab pot line in its prop. The sailboat was towed to Jennings Boatyard for repairs. Time on call, 2 hours.

May 23: At 11:30 a.m., Rescue 3 was dispatched from Olverson’s Marina on Lodge Creek to assist a 50-foot Alaskan trawler with an engine that had overheated. The crew of Rescue 3 was able to put his large ship under tow and to slide it into a slip at Olverson’s marina for repairs. Time on call, 2 hours.

May 28: At 4 p.m., the sheriff called Sea Rescue seeking help for a Sea Tow vessel struggling with a boat aground on the sandbar off Fleeton. Rescue 1 arrived on scene and found the Sea Tow rescue boat and a 40-foot cruiser with flying bridge both hard aground in extremely shallow water at low tide.

The crew on Rescue 1 determined they could not reach either boat so called for a second crew to bring Sea Rescue 2, a shallow water skiff to assist. Rescue 2 was able to carry 1200 feet of line from Rescue 1 to the Sea Tow boat and pull it into deeper water. Rescue 1, sitting in deep water, pulled and pulled but was unable to move the cruiser. It was agreed with the captain of the cruiser that Sea Rescue and Sea Tow would return the following day at high tide to again try and free the cruiser. The boat was in such shallow water that the captain of the cruiser was able to wade ashore into Fleeton for supplies before returning to sleep aboard his grounded boat.

On the following day, the crews returned and were joined by a boat from the Coast Guard station at Milford Haven. Rescue 1, the most powerful of all the rescue boats, again was unable to dislodge the cruiser and it began to look as if this would be a salvage operation, not a rescue.

Incredibly, on June 3, thanks to a powerful wind and an unusually high tide the cruiser floated off the sandbar and was intercepted by a local waterman who was able to tow it into a nearby marina where the captain, who was still living aboard, bought fuel. The following day the boat resumed its voyage for Portsmouth.

May 28: At 7:50 p.m., a waterfront resident reported that a sailboat had gone aground on the sand bar off Fleeton and was in trouble. Rescue 1 was dispatched but by the time the crew reached the scene the sailboat had been able to free itself. Time on call, 1 hour

Smith Point Sea Rescue can be reached on channel 16 or by calling 911. Rescue 1 and 2 are based on the Great Wicomico River and Rescue 3 is on Lodge Creek off the Yeocomico River.