Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coast Guard Auxiliary Boat Crew

Iowa may not have any oceans, but it has plenty of water resources.  I'm staying sharp out here.  I recently qualified as Boat Crew.  It's really an exercise in staying calm and focused amidst traffic and changing environmental conditions.

Laying anchor in the Mississippi River
My first official patrol was in Coralville, IA on Labor Day Weekend.  The morning was sidetracked by some mechanical problems--nothing we couldn't fix with a three pound sledge (and some replacement parts).  The lake had wakes and wind that bounced us around a bit.  All in all, I had a good foundation of team coordination and communications training that made me confident in the crew.  Our day's end tally was one escort and one tow.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Coast Guard Auxiliary

The Coast Guard Auxiliary performs essential duties for the Federal Government in support roles to the United States Coast Guard in non-law enforcement and non-combat roles.  Auxiliary activities include search and rescue missions, boating education, vessel safety checks, and environmental protection missions.  As a volunteer, I have the flexibility to be involved with the two activities I value most: education and environmental protection.

I have a current Instructor Qualification so I can teach public classes on recreational boating safety.  There are almost 1,000 fatalities per year among America's boating public.  Nearly all drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.  My favorite missions are outreach to school children.  They really get a kick out of trying our safety equipment.

In my first five months as an Auxiliarist, I earned the Marine Safety Training Ribbon and Operational Auxiliarist designation.  Both of these are on the path to what the Coast Guard calls "Prevention" of pollution.  In college, I had hoped to get into environmental remediation.  I'm happy to do beach cleanups to get litter off our shorelines, but would really like to get into the technical or legal side to make more of an impact.

Photo credits: Dick Reizner