Smith Point Sea Rescue Report

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

November 7: At 9 a.m., the captain of a 34-foot sailboat in Lodge Creek called for assistance when the engine would not start. Rescue 2 with a crew of five was dispatched from Olverson’s Marina and towed the sailboat with two aboard to Lewisetta Marina for haul out and repairs. Time on call, 2.5 hours.

November 13: At 12:15 p.m., the Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) received a 911 call from a boater who was broken down in the Little Wicomico River. Rescue 1 with a crew of four departed the Reedville boathouse and located a 33-foot sailboat with one man aboard. The young man, from Ohio, explained that he had recently bought the sailboat in Maryland and was on his way to Florida. Unfortunately, when he went to start his motor his starter motor burned up. The crew towed his boat into Smith Point Marina for repairs, where the man admitted that he did not have the money to buy a new starter. Sea Rescue crew members pooled their money so the man could make his repairs and head south. Time on call, 3 hours.

November 21: At 9:45 a.m., Rescue 2 with a crew of five towed a 33-foot disabled sailboat from the Yeocomico River to Coan River Marina for haul out and storage. Time on call 3 hours.

November 25: At 10:20 a.m., Rescue 2 with a crew of five towed a 30-foot sailboat with engine failure from Kinsale to Coan River Marina for repairs. Time on call 2 hours.

December 5: At 8:30 a.m., a crew of three on Rescue 1 towed the Foggy River deadrise from the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum to and from Buzzard’s Point Marina where the engine was removed. Time on call, 2 hours.

December 16: At 9:20 a.m. a crew of four on Rescue 2 towed a 23-foot disabled sailboat with one aboard from the Yeocomico River to Coan River Marina for haul out and storage. Time on call, 3 hours.

December 17: At 4 a.m., the captain of a 31-foot cabin cruiser from Reedville called to report he was alone and dead in the water off Tangier Island. The day before, he was motoring near Tangier when he hit a submerged object and lost power. A good Samaritan towed him into the island where he attempted to make repairs. Before dawn the next day he started out for Reedville but quickly lost power again.

Sea Rescue called the captain and it was decided that since it was foggy and he was safely anchored, Rescue 1 with a crew of three would wait and depart Reedville at dawn. The crew found the vessel four miles west of Tangier. Very heavy fog rolled in and with no visibility Rescue 1 used its GPS and radar to follow its own track back to Reedville where the cruiser was secured at the owner’s dock on Cockrell Creek. Time on call, 3.5 hours.

December 22: At 4:30 p.m., the captain of a 25-foot Parker cabin cruiser called to report he was hard aground on the Fleeton sandbar. A crew of three boarded Rescue 1 and with a crew of two on shallow water Rescue 1A departed from the Sea Rescue boathouse in Reedville. The crew on the skiff was able to reach the cruiser in very shallow water. They secured a line to the cruiser then carried the other end of that line out to Rescue 1 which was waiting in deep water. The cruiser was then pulled off the bar and was able to restart engines and proceed home under its own power. Time on call, 1 hour.

There is a saying among waterman heard often at this time of year. “If you go into the water, you are not coming back.” With water temperatures in the 40s, hypothermia sets in immediately and even if one is wearing a PFD it is unlikely one could climb back into a boat. Just because we have a balmy warm winter day ashore, the water is still frigid and dangerous. Please use good judgement.

Smith Point Sea Rescue is a totally volunteer rescue unit which serves boaters from Coles Point to the mouth of the Potomac River, south to the Rappahannock River and across the Chesapeake Bay to the Eastern Shore. The organization receives no governmental monetary support and depends solely on donations to fund their operations.

Smith Point Sea Rescue does not charge for its services and can be reached on VHF channel 16 or by calling 911. Rescue 1 is based in Reedville, Rescue 2 on Lodge Creek near Callao and Rescue 3 at Smith Point.