Smith Point Sea Rescue Report

Despite the pandemic and restrictions on recreational boating, Smith Point Sea Rescue (SPSR) vice president Jim Bullard reported crews have responded to the following calls for assistance.

February 20: At 4:52 p.m., the captain of a 45-foot sailboat called for assistance from the Chesapeake Bay just off Smith Point. In high winds and heavy snow, a crew of seven boarded Rescue 1 in Reedville and found the sailboat with engine failure surrounded by gill nets. In total darkness and snow showers the crew towed the sailboat though the nets and back to Jennings Boatyard for haul out and repairs. Time on call, 3 hours.

March 22: At 6 p.m., the Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) received a 911 call from a sailboater from North Carolina who was broken down in Kingscote Creek off the Coan River. A crew of four was dispatched on Rescue 2 from Olverson’s Marina. The crew helped the captain recover his anchor then towed his 27-foot Hunter into Lewisetta Marina. Given deteriorating weather and darkness, the crew left Rescue 2 at Lewisetta Marina for the night, retrieving it the following day. Time on call, 2 hours.

March 31: At 6 p.m., the local Virginia Marine Resources officers called for assistance. A 30-foot sailboat had drifted into a homeowner’s dock on Prentice Creek and was disabled. Rescue 1 with a crew of six responded and towed the sailboat with one man aboard (from Texas) to Jennings Boatyard. The crew inspected the sailboat and reported to VMRC that the sailboat had no radio, no depth finder, and the engine was inoperable. Time on call, 3 hours.

April 1: At 9:40 a.m., the same sailboater aided on March 22 called to say he was adrift with a dead battery off Haynie Point in the Great Wicomico River. Rescue 1 with a crew of six towed him into Jennings Boatyard for repairs. Time on call, 2 hours.

April 4: Sea Rescue received a report of a 30-foot sailboat hard aground in just 2 feet of water off Dameron Marsh. Rescue 1 with a crew of five found a familiar sailboat (see March 31) and again towed it to Jennings Boatyard so the engine could be fixed. Several days later, the sailor in his un-repaired boat quietly sailed out of the marina and disappeared. Time on call, 2 hours.

April 14: At 8:10 a.m., the operator of a 21-foot Carolina Skiff called 911 to report he was broken down near buoy GC#3 in the mouth of the Great Wicomico River. Rescue 1 with a crew of four left the Sea Rescue boathouse in Reedville and towed the boat with two aboard to the owner’s dock in Fleeton. Time on call, 2 hours.

April 25: At 11:30 a.m., a crew of five on Rescue 3 was dispatched from Smith Point Marina to respond to a call from Bridge Creek where a homeowner had a 22-foot pontoon boat with a faulty cooling system. The crews towed the boat to Smith Point Marina for repairs. Time on call, 2 hours.

April 28: At 10:45 a.m., the owner of a jet ski called for assistance. Rescue 3 towed the craft from Cod Creek to a private ramp near Greenfield Point on the Little Wicomico, where the owner had left his trailer. Time on call, 1 hour.

May 2: At noon, the captain of a 24-foot open bow power boat reported that he was aground on the beach at the Smith Point Jetties and his engine would not start. Rescue 3 with a crew of three responded from Smith Point Marina and towed the craft with two aboard back to the marina for repairs. Time on call, 1 hour.

May 31: At 2 p.m., a crew on Rescue 1 welcomed aboard the family of esteemed Sea Rescue captain David Haynie to pay tribute to his life and memory. Accompanied by a flotilla of boats captained by friends, and a ship and plane from Omega Protein where Haynie worked, Rescue 1 hosted a short service with the family as roses were spread over the waters. Anchors aweigh, dear friend. Time on call, 2 hours

June 6: At 7:20 a.m., the captain of a 40-foot deadrise called to report he was dead in the water in the bay off Hughlett Point. Rescue 1 with a crew of four departed Reedville and towed the commercial fishing boat to the owner’s dock in Cockrell Creek. Time on call, 3 hours.

June 10: At 5:05 p.m., Towboat USA called Smith Point Sea Rescue asking for help to free a 50-foot trawler that was hard aground on Fleeton sandbar in the Great Wicomico River. In Reedville, crews boarded both Rescue 1 and shallow water rescue skiff A in Reedville. On site, the crew of six used the skiff to carry a tow line to the trawler aground in shallow water, then ran that line out to Rescue 1 waiting in deep water. It took all of Rescue 1’s considerable power pulling for an hour (and a broken 1.5-inch poly tow line) to free the vessel with its four passengers. The trawler was then able to motor to Tiffany Yachts for service. Time on call, 2.5 hours.

June 19: At 5 p.m., a young boater called to report that he and two friends were adrift in their 19-foot Carolina skiff in the Potomac off Bay Quarter Shores. A Sea Rescue crew was called to report to Rescue 2 in Callao but before they embarked, they called the boater to confirm his location. The young man explained that they had been able to motor back to their dock by continuously squeezing the priming bulb on the fuel line. On his way home, a Sea Rescue member drove to the boat ramp at Bay Quarter Shores to ensure the boys were indeed safe and to congratulate them for finding a solution. Time on call, 1 hour.

June 20: The Westmoreland County fire chief called to ask Smith Point Sea Rescue to bring Rescue 2 to the Lower Machodoc River to help with a search and recovery mission of a presumed drowning victim. As the crew was preparing to embark from Olverson’s Marina, the chief called back to report the victim had been found and no further assistance was needed. Time on call, 1 hour.

June 22: At 4:30 p.m., a boater called 911 to report that his engine had died in the Potomac River off Cod Creek. Although there was a warning for severe thunderstorms, he had taken his 21-foot Bayliner out after installing a new battery. A crew of four boarded Rescue 2 at Olverson’s Marina and ran down the Potomac to tow the boater back to his dock in Cod Creek. Time on call, 3 hours.

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 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.