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Smith Point Sea Rescue May 2018 mission report

Submitted by Jim Bullard, Vice-President, SPSR

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

May 1: At 1:30pm the Coast Guard received a call from a female on board a 43’ Grand Banks trawler who reported that as they were approaching Reedville her husband had collapsed and apparently died onboard.  Rescue 1 was dispatched with Northumberland County’s Chief of Emergency Services Rick McClure onboard to intercept the vessel and provide any assistance necessary.  The crew was shocked to recognize the vessel as being owned by a Reedville couple who were returning from their annual winter stay in Marathon, FL. The female reported that she was very capable of operating the vessel and that she just wanted to reach home.  With heavy hearts the crew of Rescue 1 escorted the vessel to her pier where the proper authorities awaited.  Time on call, 2.5 hours.

This sad event is a reminder that if you are the captain of a vessel it is your responsibility to ensure that another member of your party can operate your vessel and knows how to call for help if your are disabled.

May 10:  At 2pm the captain of a 35’ sailboat called the Sheriff to report he was dead in the water in Cockrell Creek and needed assistance.  Rescue 1 was dispatched from the Sea Rescue boathouse in Reedville and determined that the sailboat had wrapped a crab pot line around its propeller.  The sailboat was towed to a nearby marina for repairs. Time on call, 1 hour

May 20:  At 10:55am the Sheriff received a call from the captain of a 36’ Beneteau sailboat from Hartfield VA with two aboard.  The captain reported he was near Smith Point Light and his engine had failed.  Rescue 1 was dispatched from Reedville, located the sailboat and towed it to Jennings Boatyard in Reedville for electrical repairs. Time on call, 1 hour

May 20:  At 4:15pm the captain of a 42’ Endeavour sailboat traveling from Tangier Island radioed that he was disabled in the mouth of the Great Wicomico River. Rescue 1 located the craft with two on board and determined that the boat had wrapped a crab pot line in its prop. The sailboat was towed to Jennings Boatyard for repairs. Time on call, 2 hours

May 23: At 11:30am Rescue 3 was dispatched from Olverson’s Marina on Lodge Creek to assist a 50’ Alaskan trawler with an engine that had overheated.  The crew of Rescue 3 was able to put his large ship under tow and to slide it into a slip at Olverson’s marina for repairs. Time on call, 2 hours

May 28: At 4pm the Sheriff called Sea Rescue and asked if we could help a Sea Tow vessel that was struggling with a boat aground on the sandbar off Fleeton. Rescue 1 arrived on scene and found the Sea Tow rescue boat and a 40’ cruiser with flying bridge both hard aground in extremely shallow water at low tide.  The crew on Rescue 1 determined they could not reach either boat so called for a second crew to bring Sea Rescue 2, a shallow water skiff to assist.  Rescue 2 was able to carry 1,200’ of line from Rescue 1 to the Sea Tow boat and pull it into deeper water.  Rescue 1, sitting in deep water, pulled and pulled but was unable to move the cruiser. It was agreed with the captain of the cruiser that Sea Rescue and Sea Tow would return the following day at high tide to again try and free the cruiser.  The boat was in such shallow water that the captain of the cruiser was able to wade ashore into Fleeton for supplies before returning to sleep aboard his grounded boat. On the following day the crews returned and were joined by a boat from the Coast Guard station at Milford Haven.  Rescue 1, the most powerful of all the rescue boats, again was unable to dislodge the cruiser and it began to look as if this would be a salvage operation, not a rescue.  Incredibly, early on June 3, thanks to a powerful wind and an unusually high tide the cruiser floated off the sandbar and was intercepted by a local waterman who was able to tow it into a nearby marina where the captain, who was still living aboard, bought fuel. The following day the boat resumed its voyage for Portsmouth VA.

May 28:  At 7:50pm a waterfront resident reported that a sailboat had gone aground on the sand bar off Fleeton and was in trouble.  Rescue 1 was dispatched but by the time the crew reached the scene the sailboat had been able to free itself.  Time on call, 1 hour

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

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