Smith Point Sea Rescue Report

Smith Point Sea Rescue (SPSR) editor Dan Morissette recently reported crews have responded to the following calls for assistance:

April 2: At 7:35 p.m., the Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) received a call from the captain of a 27-foot Ericson sailboat with two aboard that his engine had run out of gas outside the Little Wicomico River. Sea Rescue contacted the sailboat and offered to send a vessel immediately. Despite deteriorating weather, the sailboat captain preferred to anchor and wait until morning for assistance.

At 10:24 p.m., the NCSO notified SPSR that it had received another call from the sailboat, which had lost its anchor and been driven north by wind and waves. Rescue 1 departed Reedville at 10:36 p.m. with a crew of four into strong winds, 5- to 6-foot waves and very poor visibility. With the aid of radar and the FLIR night-vision camera, the crew found the sailboat at 11:50 p.m. four nautical miles north of Smith Point light.

Despite the rough seas, the crew was able to pass a tow line to the disabled vessel and secure it. With Rescue 1 proceeding slowly due to the hazardous conditions, the vessel was towed to Jennings Boatyard without incident, arriving at 2:30 a.m. April 3. Time on call: 4 hours.

April 12:  At 12:32 p.m., the NCSO notified Sea Rescue that the captain of a 21-foot Grady White reported his engine had failed in the Little Wicomico jetties.  Rescue 3 with a crew of three departed Smith Point Marina at 1:05 p.m. and reached the disabled vessel at 1:15 p.m. The vessel was then towed to Smith Point Marina. Time on call: 40 minutes.

April 25:  At 9 a.m., a resident temporarily disabled by a medical condition contacted a SPSR member requesting assistance to have their 21-foot Boston Whaler towed from their dock on Towles Creek to Buzzard Point Marina for needed work. Rescue 1 responded with a crew of four and completed the tow without incident.  Time on call: 1.5 hours.

At 9:28 am, just as Rescue 1 departed the Reedville boathouse on the preceding mission, NCSO notified the duty captain that a resident had called requesting that their disabled 25-foot Hunter sailboat be towed for repairs.  After completing the morning’s first mission, Rescue 1 responded to Blackwells Creek and towed the sailboat to Jennings Boatyard. Time on call: 1.5 hours.

May 1:  At 10:14 a.m., NCSO reported an 18-foot runabout with a disabled engine aground on the sandbar off Fleeton Point. Carrying crews of three each, Rescue 1 and Rescue A (a small, shallow-draft skiff) were dispatched from Reedville at 10:30 a.m. and arrived on-scene at 10:45 a.m. to find the runabout in water so shallow the people on board had walked ashore. The crew on Rescue A ran a tow line from the disabled boat to Rescue 1, which then towed the vessel to Shell Landing to be reunited with its owner. Time on call: 1.4 hours.

May 30: At 7:18 p.m., NCSO notified the SPSR duty captain there was an “overdue jet ski in the Little Wicomico River.” During a follow up call for details, the NCSO informed SPSR the jet ski had been located. Approximately an hour later, however, the NCSO advised SPSR that they had received a new call on the overdue boater. Rescue 3 was dispatched with a crew of three to search, as darkness approached.   

At 9:10 p.m., the crew located the overdue jet ski at buoy 12 in the Little Wicomico, with three adults aboard who were not familiar with local waters and had no cell phones. The jet ski had run out of gas. Rescue 3 towed the jet ski and passengers to Smith Point Marina. SPSR thanks local boaters who had aided the jet ski earlier. Time on call: 2 hours.

Smith Point Sea Rescue is a 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 Smith and Tangier islands. The organization receives no regular governmental monetary support and depends solely on donations. 

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.