Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Smith Point Sea Rescue Report

On July 3, Smith Point Sea Rescue received help from a shallow-draft jet boater to free a vessel aground on a sandbar in Mill Creek.

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

July 3: At 5:45 p.m., SPSR received reports from the Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) that a 28-foot Grady-White with two passengers was aground on a sandbar in Mill Creek off Ingram Bay. Rescue I dispatched from Cockrell Creek with a crew of three in a serious thunderstorm with torrential rain.

While underway, Rescue I contacted an SPSR member living on Mill Creek to assist in locating the boat and reporting its precise location. Rescue I then navigated to the vessel, finding it hard aground in very shallow water. The operator of a passing shallow-draft jet boat was hailed for assistance and carried a tow line from Rescue I to the grounded vessel. After pulling for several minutes, Rescue I freed the Grady-White and towed it to deeper water, where it was able to proceed under its own power. SPSR thanks the assisting boaters for their help. Time on call: 1.5 hours.

July 7: At 1:15 p.m., NCSO notified SPSR that a 22-foot Grady-White with two persons aboard was disabled near Potomac Buoy “1”, north of Smith Point. The boat was reported to be drifting with its engine overheated and the oil alarm sounding. Rescue I departed with a crew of three at 1:43 p.m. from its boathouse on Cockrell Creek and quickly located the disabled boat due to the accurate latitude and longitude coordinates provided by the vessel’s captain. The boat was then towed to Smith Point Marina for repairs. Time on call: 3.0 hours.

July 8: At 1:20 p.m., SPSR received a call from NCSO reporting that a 22-foot Grady-White with two people and two dogs aboard was disabled in Ingram Bay. Rescue I dispatched from Cockrell Creek at 1:50 p.m. with a crew of four and quickly located the vessel anchored just outside Mill Creek. The owner of the boat explained that he hit something in the water that froze his engine and asked to be towed to his pier further up Mill Creek. Rescue I towed the vessel to the owner’s pier and returned to base. Time on call: 1.5 hours.

July 12: At 3:38 p.m., NCSO notified Sea Rescue that the operator of an 18-foot Buoy Eight center console skiff had reported that his boat had hit something, lost its prop and was anchored in the vicinity of the target ships southwest of Tangier Island. Rescue I responded with a crew of four from Cockrell Creek and headed for the latitude and longitude coordinates provided by the solo boat operator. Upon arriving at that location, in clear weather but building seas, SPSR commenced visual and radar search for the small skiff. Several hours of searching failed to locate the boat and repeated efforts to re-establish communications with the boat’s young operator were fruitless.

The SPSR captain decided to expand the search and called the USCG to request assistance, because night was approaching, and seas were getting heavy. The Coast Guard was unable to provide aerial support before dark, so SPSR called Omega Protein and requested the assistance of an Ocean Harvester spotter plane. Omega quickly launched a plane to the area of Tangier Island. The pilot located the skiff, now northwest of the island, and passed its coordinates to SPSR. Rescue I arrived at the new position 30 minutes later but again found nothing. Sea Rescue continued searching the area, and after another hour located the unlit skiff with a dragging anchor well north of Tangier Island. Rescue I took the skiff in tow and returned it to Jennings Boat Yard at 1 a.m. The young operator was reunited with very anxious parents. Rescue I then returned to base. Time on call: 9.0 hours.

SPSR thanks Ocean Harvester and Omega Protein for their quick and vital assistance in locating this boater.

Smith Point Sea Rescue is a volunteer rescue unit serving 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. It receives no regular governmental monetary support, depending solely on donations.

Smith Point Sea Rescue does not charge for its services and can be reached on VHF channel 16 or at 911. Rescue 1 and Rescue Skiff A are based in Reedville, with Rescue 2 and Rescue Skiff B on Lodge Creek near Callao.

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