Crescent City's all-volunteer unit of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is looking for a few good men and/or women to join its ranks. The job includes manning its 25-foot rescue boat, conducting classes in safety for land and sea, boat safety checks, and demonstrations of all the above.
Members don't have to own their own craft.
The Del Norte County unit stationed here is one of three used to augment U.S.. Coast Guard installations on the North Coast, with others in Eureka and Brookings.
"Handling official North Coast maritime chores is often a 24/7 job," commented former Crescent City Fleet Commander Bill Barlow in a recent interview. "We're ready when the Coast Guard calls us.
"Sometimes we have our hands full. For example, we recently had to make two boat rescues in one day."
What do most rescues consist of?
"Towing. We tow a lot of boats. Also, the water here is very cold. Time is important if we have to find someone who has gone into the water."
His wife, Becky, recently replaced him as local fleet commander. They are only one of the North Coast husband-and-wife teams.
Take June and Jack Feather. They belong to the Brookings unit, where you don't have to own a boat to belong, but unlike Crescent City, they have to depend on private boats for their work. Brookings Auxiliary work was established in 1972, while Crescent City dates to 2002.
Howard Tingley is flotilla commander in Brookings, which recently tallied up
37 members to Del Norte's 26.
The Coast Guard's official job description was being handled under federal supervision as far back as Revolutionary War days. As the nation grew, the job took on more dimensions. Today, the USCG is America's first line of coastal defense, in addition to its basic law enforcement and safety duties.
The National Auxiliary dates to 1935 and today has expanded to cover the nation's coastal frontiers.
Members need to know safety rules and regulations, how to man a boat, rescue operations and much more.
"Learning the routines is a whole education in itself," says June Feathers, "and anyone wanting to join should take it seriously."
"Every time you go out it's an adventure," says Barlow, but he noted that teaching safety in and out of the water, and checking boats for safety and regulation compliance is also part of the job.
The local unit is conducting a membership drive this month. Anyone wanting information should contact the Auxiliary at P.O. Box 1675, Crescent City, CA 95531.
Ann Terrill Garlick is a veteran, award-winning journalist and a native Californian. She spent nearly 23 years as one of the editors at the Orange County Register.