Smith Point Sea Rescue vice president Jim Bullard reported crews in November responded to the following calls for assistance:
November 2: At 4 p.m., the captain of a 34-foot Tartan sailboat had called Boat U.S. asking for a rescue. He reported he was in the shipping channel of the Chesapeake Bay, out of fuel, in irons with no wind, with darkness approaching.
Boat U.S. determined that their closest provider was three hours away, so they called the sheriff to ask for help. The sheriff called Smith Point Sea Rescue and Rescue I was dispatched from Reedville. The sailboat was towed into Jennings Boatyard arriving at 9 p.m. Time on call, 4 hours.
November 6: At 11:45 a.m., the sheriff received a call from a 35-foot Sea Ray cabin cruiser with four aboard, hard aground near marker 2 in the Little Wicomico River.
Rescue I responded from Reedville. With the help of a local boater who carried their line to the cruiser in very shallow water, Rescue I pulled the boat off the shoal and into deep water where it resumed its trip under its own power. Time on call, 2.5 hours.
November 8: At 12:25 p.m., the sheriff received a call from a 34-foot sailboat with engine failure. Rescue I departed Reedville but before reaching the boat was called back when the captain was able to restart his engine. Time on call, 1 hour.
November 11: At 8:20 a.m., the captain of a 32-foot sailboat from Beaufort, S.C., called 911 from his mobile phone to report that his battery had died and he was adrift near marker 2 in the Little Wicomico River.
Rescue I responded and the crew passed the captain a portable power pack allowing him to restart his engines. Rescue I then escorted the sailboat into Smith Point Marina for repairs. Time on call, 1.5 hours.
November 26: At 4:50 p.m. the captain of a 44-foot SailCat catamaran sailboat asked for assistance on VHS Channel 16. The captain reported that in four-foot seas in the bay off Smith Point he had run over a gill net and his props were now entangled.
Rescue I was dispatched from Reedville and using its radar was able to find the sailboat in the dark. The captain had been able to free the boat from the net, but was unable to restart his engines. The Smith Point crew towed the sailboat and its three passengers to the expansive open dock at the Crazy Crab. Time on call, 4 hours.
November 27: At 10:30 a.m., crews from Rescue I and Rescue III were dispatched to assist the owner of a disabled and stranded 18-foot Seadoo jet boat aground in Hull Creek. Using a neighbor’s boat, the crews were able to recover the jet boat and tow it to the neighborhood boat ramp. Time on call, 2 hours.
November 27: At 1:30 p.m., the sheriff received a distress call from the captain of a 19-foot Chris Craft bow rider broken down in the mouth of the Coan River off the Potomac River. As their boat was being driven by a stiff breeze into shallow water the three passengers were able to grab a marker piling and tie their boat to it.
Rescue III was dispatched from Olverson’s Marina and found the boat with three very cold fishermen aboard. The boat was towed to Lewisetta Marina where the boaters had left their trailer. Time on call, 3 hours.
Bullard also reported that on November 26 there was a tragic boating accident on the upper Potomac, above Smith Point Sea Rescue’s territory, when three fishermen drowned and a fourth survived after spending the night in the water tied to the overturned hull of their boat.
Their 30-foot, 2007 boat broke apart in six-foot seas when a cold front suddenly overtook them as they tried to reach shore.
Cold fronts can turn the Potomac, or the bay, from flat calm into deadly seas in minutes, said Bullard. If the weather forecast calls for a front approaching, please stay off the water.
Smith Point Sea Rescue can be reached on channel 16 or by calling 911. Rescue I and II are based on the Great Wicomico River and Rescue III is on Lodge Creek off the Yeocomico River.