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Posts Tagged ‘USCG’

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SA’er Clove Hitch shares a less-than-satisfactory story of the ‘folks who keep us safe.’

The Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend, my buddy and I headed out on our little shitbox modest yacht in the Chesapeake. It was steady 14 with gusts to 21 and building; we were under a no. 3 job and a reefed main but still overpowered. We headed north  to the Bay Bridge, warming up a bowl of chili I’d made the night before. It was the kind of glorious nighttime sailing I’d so missed: Clear skies, bright stars, big wind, and other than us, no one around.

Except, of course, the US Coast Guard; and here’s a poem about what happened.

On a moonless night with faded stars
10 billion candle power seen from afar,
throbbing white, flashing blue, red, green and bright
the Coast Guard approaches with search lights.

They boarded with a bash or two and a bonk,
muscle-bound youths tatted with nautical-themed sleeves,
more ink than had my Grandpa that served on the Gleaves.
We lingered in irons while they sniffed about

and put their boots in chili they had spilled,
cabin sole covered, aluminum bracket killed,
paint torn off, though they gave us a touch of theirs.
You mariners on the whale-road beware:
your knowledge, gear and skill are no shield
to the Coasties you must always yield

when they come in the night blazing ignorance.
They came up to leeward and there was on audible “crunch” when they bashed into our transom/side, while two guys scampered on. One coastie had more badass ink than I’d ever seen: His name in signal flags, anchors, and so on, and all of 22 years old. His buddy plops down in the cockpit with his check list, slapping the seat with his hand.  ”This is wood, right?”

I’ve heard people say the CG doesn’t know much about boats, but I never really believed it until then. We told him it was fiberglass. Next, he asks about our auxiliary power. “We have a 6 horse,” my buddy says.

“You have twin sixes?”

Uh, no. Sure don’t.

I dug around and we got through their little safety check. They were polite, but seriously ignorant, and seriously damaging. The next morning we noticed that they took off some of our shiny new paint, giving us some of their own as is to say, “Our bad, have some of our paint since we took some of yours’.  They had also crunched an aluminum bracket on the transom that holds on the rub rail/hull-deck joint cover.

UntitledNow, some might say, “It’s fine to talk shit about the Coasties, but they are out there saving lives, so have some respect, and STFU.” To this, I offer a humble retort: When I was an ambulance crew chief, if we ever damaged stuff on our way to a call we’d catch all kinds of shit. Hell, even blazing lights and sirens on our way to a sick infant, some townsfolk complained that we were being bullies on the road and our chief had to give us some grief. Now, just imagine if we were playing bumper cars because there was somebody sick? Would that fly?

All I can say to my fellow sailors is that if the CG is going to board you, spring into action. They may or may not wait for you to get your main sail down, they may or may not wait for you to get fenders rigged. But if you do have time to deploy fenders, put every fucking one you have out.


May 31st, 2014 by admin

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After our massive disappointment in the Robert Redford stupid-fest ‘All Is Lost‘, our ears pricked up when the New York Times Sunday Mag printed a long and brilliantly written piece on a NY fisherman’s near-death experience last Sunday.  Like Redford, the NYTMAG has millions of fans, and the story has been the most clicked-on thing over at for 8 days now.  So what’s the problem?

Author Paul Tough, recent author of a book touting how ‘Grit’ helps children succeed, romanticized moron fisherman John Aldridge so heavily in an effort to make a good story that he gave millions of fisherman – most of whom still haven’t heard of personal EPIRBs or sleep deprivation – hope that somehow, their ‘grit’ and a good pair of sea boots are enough to get them past working practices that make their job one of the most dangerous in the entire world of employment.  We understand how an author might want to leave this out of his story; just like in the Redford moronopic (or any one of ten thousand hack-n-slash movies), if a tragedy is easily avoided but for ignorance or hubris, it’s hard to cheer for the protagonist.

The Anarchists are already on it, but so was outspoken safety consultant (and ex USCG SAR-dude) Mario Vittone, who published a snarky response to the piece on Thursday called ‘Trying Very Hard To Die”.  It ain’t the first time Mario and SA have agreed on something, and we consider his piece on kids and drowning from 2010 to be required reading for every parent on the planet.  Here are his ‘five responses’ to the ‘inescapable danger’ that, according to the Times, today’s commercial fishermen face.  Hit GCaptain for the full article.

1. Never work alone on the deck of an open boat while 40 miles offshore when the boat is on autopilot.

2. If you are going to work alone on the open deck of a boat while 40 miles offshore in the dark, consider wearing a life jacket.

3. If you go offshore for a living, consider spending about $275 on a Personal EPIRB.

4. Try to sleep more than zero hours every 24.

5. If you work on a boat where one person is awake while the rest of the crew sleeps, then 1. Reconsider that arrangement, and 2. Spend five dollars on an alarm clock

January 6th, 2014 by admin

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