Susquehanna Hose Company used Air Boat 5, shown here in February, to rescue the people and dog who'd been aground for two days. Image: Cheryl Costello

VIDEO: Two People, Dog Rescued from Powerboat Aground for Days off Havre de Grace

It was a slightly unusual call for the Susquehanna Hose Company on the upper Chesapeake Bay: a couple was stranded on their Sea Ray in the shallows off Tydings Park, where the Susquehanna River meets the Bay.

The boat, a 1977 30-foot Sea Ray Sedan Bridge, had been anchored in the cove for about five days when it encountered Sunday’s heavy wind and rain. The windy conditions were too much and the boat broke anchor, quickly drifting into shallow water.

The couple aboard were living aboard their boat, having traveled down the Intracoastal Waterway from New England. They dropped the anchor, but the wind kept pushing their boat further onto the flats, where they sat for three days.

Sarah Rae, her partner Bella Eldridge and their small dog, Lily, were there for about two days with the boat listing on its side. They had a generator and a space heater on board, but ran out of fuel.

Susquehanna Hose Co. shared this video
from the rescue of the disabled boaters.

They were also beginning to run out of food and Rae’s diabetes medications were running low. Friends on shore tried to help arrange a tow, but the boat was too hard aground and the tide was too low for tow boats to reach the stranded boaters.

The Department of Natural Resources contacted the Susquehanna Hose Company, the only emergency responders in the region with an airboat specifically intended for shallow-water rescues. On Tuesday evening, Air Boat 5 brought the boaters and their dog safely to shore.

“The airboat was a blessing. There was no other way anyone could have gotten to us,” Rae says.

Chesapeake Bay Magazine got a first ride on the Bay rescue vessel back in February. 1st Lieut. Charlie Jones of the Susquehanna Hose Company estimated it would make rescues three times faster on the infamous Susquehanna Flats, where depths and tides vary widely.

When the boaters and dog safely reached shore, Rae was able to treat her diabetes and local marine service provider Joshua Argentino helped set them up with a warm motel to stay in for the night.

“We’re just so thankful for the people of Havre de Grace. Their outpouring of support has been amazing,” says Rae.

Chesapeake Bay Magazine will continue to follow this story and the plans to recover the boat, which has prompted some concern as a navigational hazard where it currently sits.

-Meg Walburn Viviano