Rescue III was christened on Saturday in Reedville. Photo: Larry Chowning

Volunteer Rescue Squad Christens New Rescue Boat on Northern Neck

The Northern Neck’s all-volunteer squad, Smith Point Sea Rescue, celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday, christening a new rescue boat, Rescue III, at Buzzard’s Point Marina near Reedville, Virginia.

The Reedville-based nonprofit sea rescue organization is the only sea volunteer unit in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay and organization leaders believe it is one of only two organizations quite like it on the East Coast.

The group has been serving the Potomac River region for a half century, towing boaters who have broken down or become grounded in shallow waters or delivering fuel to those who have run out.

Rescues are not always so routine. At the ceremony on Saturday author Ann Eichenmuller, who has written the soon to be released book, There When Needed – A History of Smith Point Sea Rescue, read an excerpt outlining the Nov. 2, 1973 boating incident that left a family clinging for life to their sinking boat, which sparked the formation of the organization.

In April 2023, Smith Point Sea Rescue was there when a 50-foot boat sank and left eight people stranded in cold water. The rescue crew saved all eight people as hypothermia had begun to set in.

The group answers on an average of 65 to 70 calls a year and consists of northern and southern stations where about 40 volunteers currently man the two stations. One group works out of Reedville on Cockrell Creek. This station serves the lower Potomac River region and middle portion of Chesapeake Bay. The other station is housed at Olverson’s Lodge Creek Marina at Callao and that group covers the upper Potomac.

Donors Sandy Doptis, left, and Sandy David christened Rescue III on Saturday. Photo: Larry Chowning

Rescue III will work from the Reedville site. The boat is a fiberglass Donelle Series 35. It has new state-of-the art electronics, including night and day vision enhancement.

The new boat was entirely funded through donations and grants.

The christening ceremony on Saturday was to thank all those who had contributed to the project. Donors Dee David and Sandy Doptis were honored to christen the boat. Simultaneously they smacked the bow of Rescue IV with champagne bottles. David broke her bottle on the first swing, while Doptis connected on the second attempt.

Rescue III is now ready to go for any calls the boating season brings.