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Press Release | May 10, 2024

Coast Guard rescues mariner from aground sailing vessel near Smith Point, Va.

BALTIMORE — The Coast Guard hoisted a mariner from an aground sailing vessel, Thursday evening, near Smith Point, Virginia.

Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region watchstanders overheard communications via VHF-FM radio channel 16 with Coast Guard Sector Virginia from the operator of the 30-foot sailing vessel Orion, stating his vessel ran aground near Smith Point in Maryland state waters. 

The watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast, directed the launch of a Coast Guard Station St. Inigoes 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew, a Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, along with local rescue crews.

The station crew arrived on scene near Smith Point and found a sailing vessel lodged aground in shallow water, due to the depth of water the station crew was unable to assist. 

The helicopter crew arrived on scene and safely hoisted the mariner from the sailing vessel and transferred him to Rappahannock General Hospital, with no reported injuries.

“The quick response of our crews allowed for a smooth and effective response in this case,” said Lt. Cmdr. Erin Palmer, the search and rescue mission controller for Sector Maryland-National Capital Region. “Thankfully, the mariner had a VHF radio on board and did the right thing by hailing out for help. Channel 16 is continuously monitored by the Coast Guard, and it is imperative to have a VHF radio on board your vessel in case of an emergency.”  

In addition, the Coast Guard encourages the public to review these key safe boating tips in advance of the summer boating season:

  • Always wear a life jacket. There is usually very little time to reach for stowed vests when accidents occur. Wearing one, while on the water, reduces the risk of drowning. Federal law requires mariners to have a personal flotation device aboard for each passenger.
  • Have sufficient means of communication including a VHF radio. VHF channel 16 is the international hailing and distress frequency and can be used to reach the Coast Guard during emergencies.
  • Never boat under the influence. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are stringent penalties for violating BUI/BWI laws, which can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.
  • Never turn your back on the water. There are strong rip currents along the Atlantic coast, and sneaker waves are common.
  • Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.
  • Even if boaters do not plan to enter the water, they should be prepared for an emergency. Paddleboarders, kayakers and wind surfers who are likely to go in the water should wear a wetsuit to decrease their risk of hypothermia and a life jacket to prevent them from drowning before rescuers can get on scene.
  • File a float plan. A float plan is simply letting family and friends know where you are going and your expected time of return. File a float plan with someone who is not getting underway with you and stick to the plan. A float plan assists responders in the search of an overdue boater who may be in distress.

For more boating information, go to and for weather conditions please visit


- USCG -