By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
Sinking boats and distressed surfers will soon have a new force of rescuers to help them.
On May 1, Del Norte's U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be finished with rescue training and be ceremoniously assigned a Coast Guard rigid-hulled rescue boat.
"It's going to be making us official to be able to help in search and rescue. It's pretty doggone exciting," said Bev Noll, one of the pioneering organizers of the unique group.
Noll and others began their mission more than two years ago to form the auxiliary.
Once officially recognized by the Coast Guard, it took about two years to complete all the classes and ocean training necessary to perform search and rescue.
According to Noll, it is the only Coast Guard auxiliary in the nation that performs aid operations and patrols in the ocean.
The group is made up of about 40 volunteers. A few of those pursued rigorous training in launching a rescue boat, operating it in rough seas and plunging into the cold water to rescue those in danger.
Other factions within the auxiliary are now trained as safety educators, showing commercial fishing vessel operators and workers what livesaving equipment they should have on their vessels and how to quickly put on thermal drysuits for survival in the frigid northern Pacific.
"A lot of different kinds of people make up this group," Noll said. "And we're still building our manpower."
Noll said she tried to create an active Coast Guard auxiliary here because there was a dire need for more safety and patrol coverage off Del Norte County's shore.
The new rigid-hulled boat will be presented to the Auxiliary at 10 a.m. next Thursday by Captain Theodore LeFeuvre, commander of Group Humboldt Bay.