Smith Point Sea Rescue Report

Safe waters lecture

Members of Smith Point Sea Rescue urge readers to attend the free talk “Safe Waters: Avoiding Vibriosis in Coastal Virginia,” by Dr. Wirt Cross, concerning the dangers of Vibrio bacteria in coastal waters and how to avoid becoming sick.

The talk will be at held at 7 p.m. Monday, September 25, at Festival Halle, 177 Main Street, Reedville.

Vibrio is a bacteria common to coastal waters. The vibriosis infection can be potentially life threatening when it enters the blood through a cut or scrape in the skin.

The lecture is sponsored by Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, Smith Point Sea Rescue Inc., and the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum.

Smith Point Sea Rescue vice president Jim Bullard reported crews recently responded to the following calls for assistance:

August 16: At 3:30 p.m., the owner of a 22-foot center console reported that his boat had sunk and was lying on its side at his dock. A Reedville crew from Rescue 1 responded, pumped the water out of the boat and towed it to Buzzard’s Point Marina for repairs. Time on call, 3 hours.

August 18: At 3:20 p.m., the owner of a 25-foot bow rider called from Cockrell’s Deli reporting that his battery was dead. Rescue 1 was dispatched from the Reedville boathouse and was unable to get the engine started after attempting to jump the battery. The crew then towed the boat to the owner’s dock at the head of the Great Wicomico River. Time on call, 3 hours.

August 19: At 4:05 p.m., the sheriff received a call from the captain of a 21-foot Seadoo that had sucked the line from a crab pot into its jet drive. The boat was disabled in shallow water in the mouth of Hull Creek off the Potomac. A Rescue 3 member who lives on that creek responded in a boat that could operate in extreme shallow water and was able to free the Seadoo and tow it to a nearby ramp. The member then drove the captain to his home to retrieve his truck and trailer. Time on call, 1 hour.

August 21: At 9:45 a.m., a boater reported there was a large boat in the bay off Fleeton that was on fire. Rescue 1 was dispatched from Reedville and located the 33-foot trawler being escorted to shore by the marine police. The trawler’s diesel engine was malfunctioning and creating heavy black smoke, but was able to reach Buzzard’s Point Marina under its own power. Time on call, 1 hour.

August 22: At 10:15 a.m., the captain of a 33-foot Grady White called the U.S. Coast Guard seeking help. He reported he was hard aground on a sandbar in the Great Wicomico with two passengers on board. The Coast Guard asked Smith Point Sea Rescue to respond.

Rescue 1 and Rescue 2 were dispatched from Reedville and the crews found that the captain had climbed out of his boat in an attempt to walk ashore. A good Samaritan had picked him up in a private boat. Rescue 2 retrieved the captain while Rescue 1 attended to the disabled boat which they discovered had broken free with a rising tide and was now adrift with two inexperienced passengers aboard.

The captain was returned to his boat and was able to motor home under his own power. Time on call, 1 hour.

August 26: At 2:45 p.m., the sheriff called the Senior Boat Captain of Smith Point Sea Rescue to ask for help for a boater whose engine had failed in shallow water in Dameron Marsh. The captain happened to be out fishing near the marsh so he took his personal boat into the marsh and towed the disabled boat with three occupants into Ingram Bay Marina. Time on call, 1 hour.

August 27: At 4:30 p.m., a passenger on a 29-foot Sea Hawk powerboat called the sheriff asking for help. The engine had failed and the captain had been attempting to fix it for several hours as the boat drifted in the mouth of the Potomac River off Point Lookout.

Rescue 1 was dispatched from Reedville but once underway called the passenger who requested a tow back to Lewisetta Marina. Since Rescue 3 is stationed near Lewisetta, Rescue 1 turned the rescue over to Rescue 3. The crew on Rescue 3 arrived at the mouth of the Potomac but could not locate the boat.

The passenger was called again and explained that the captain had been able to get the engine running, that a steering cable then broke, but that they were underway to Lewisetta using the trim tabs as steering. Rescue 3 followed the boat to Lewisetta and confirmed they arrived safely. Time on call, 2 hours.

August 28: At 9:30 a.m., the captain of a 28-foot sailboat that had anchored overnight in the Coan River reported that he was in rough seas and his engine would not start, likely a clogged fuel filter caused by a night of bouncing over wind driven waves. Rescue 3 towed the sailboat, from Oriental, N.C., into a quiet harbor near Cowart Seafood up the Coan River where the captain could attempt repairs. Time on call, 2 hours.

August 29: At 10:10 a.m., the sheriff received a call from the same captain who had called the day before stating that he was in extreme wind, that his anchor was dragging and he was in danger of grounding. The Potomac River was so rough it was decided it was too dangerous to bring Rescue 3 down to assist. The Rescue 3 captain drove to Cowart Seafood where he asked Lake Cowart if he could help. Without hesitation, Lake, an employee, and the Sea Rescue captain boarded Cowart’s Fat Spat oyster boat to intercept the sailboat, tow it to a piling 50 yards offshore and secure it. Thanks, to Lake Cowart, said Bullard. Time on call, 2 hours.

August 30: At 11 a.m., the crew of Rescue 3 returned in calm seas to the sailboat secured the day before and towed it into Coan River Marina for repairs. Time on call, 2 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 to the Chesapeake Bay to the Eastern Shore. The organization receives no governmental monetary support and depends solely on donations to fund its operations.

Smith Point Sea Rescue can be reached on channel 16 or by calling 911. Rescue 1 and Rescue 2 are based in Reedville and Rescue 3 is on Lodge Creek near Callao.