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Smith Point Sea Rescue
October 2015 mission report
Smith Point Sea Rescue responded to a variety of calls for assistance which are listed below. Smith Point Sea Rescue can be reached 24/7 by calling on channel 16 or by calling 911. Rescue I and Rescue II are based on the Great Wicomico River and Rescue III is located on Lodge Creek off the Yeocomico River.
October 16: At 5:30am the sheriff called to report that the Coast Guard had received a distress signal from an EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon). The signal was sent from a vessel near buoy 65 in the Bay. The Sea Rescue Crew for Rescue 1 scrambled out of bed and launched from the Reedville boathouse. The crew searched around the signal location in rough seas but could find no vessel in distress. Assumption is that a vessel inadvertently sent the signal and did not rescind it. Time on call, 2 hours.
October 16: At 2:30pm the captain on a 39’ Catalina sailboat reported that he was hard aground in Cockrell’s Creek. Rescue 1 attempted to pull the boat free with no success. The captain then advised that the sailboat has a winged keel that had obviously dug well into the bottom mud. The crew lined Rescue 1 up and applied heavy prop wash to the keel, unburying the keel and allowing the vessel to be freed and towed into deep water in the Great Wicomico River. Since the captain was from New Jersey and unfamiliar with our waters, Rescue 1 then escorted him to his desired location on Warehouse Creek. Time on call, 2 hours.
October 18: At 2:30pm a distress call was received from the captain of a 34’ Four Winds cabin cruiser who reported that he had run out of gas in the Little Wicomico River. The Sea Rescue captain on duty that week keeps his personal boat on those waters so he called his crew and they set out in his small boat to deliver a can of gas. Once underway, they determined that the vessel in distress was actually outside the jetties and in 4’-5’ seas, east of Smith Point Light. They were able to reach the vessel and deliver the gas in very rough weather. The cabin cruiser was able to start its engine but did not have enough gas to reach safety. Sea Rescue then launched Rescue 1 that had the power to handle the seas and to tow the cruiser into Smith Point Marina. Time on call, 4 hours.
October 25: At 9:15pm the Sherriff called to report that the Coast Guard in Baltimore had been informed that there was a sailboat near the Smith Point Jetties that was tangled in a pound net. The captain, who was alone, appeared to be sick and somewhat unresponsive. In rough and misty seas, Rescue 1 found the 32’ O’Day sailboat with its bow well into a net and its jib badly fouled. The captain, an elderly gentleman, was unable to use his VHS radio to communicate. The crew was able to get a line onto his bow and to pull the vessel free. Once under tow, the captain disappeared below deck leaving the helm free and his boat drifting from side to side. When they reached Jennings Boatyard at 1am, the crew called the Rescue Squad to care for the captain, who was taken to Rappahannock General Hospital and treated for dehydration and hypothermia. Several days later a member of Smith Point Sea Rescue drove the gentleman to Newport News where he rented a car. His boat is still at Jennings Boatyard. Time on call, 4 hours.
Smith Point Sea Rescue is a totally volunteer rescue unit which serves boaters from Ragged Point to the mouth of the Potomac River, south to the Rappahannock River and across to the eastern shore. The organization receives no governmental monetary support and depends solely on donations to fund their operations for the year.