We have two nephews who are making their careers in the Coast Guard and we’re very proud of them. One was stationed for a time in Maine and I think was always concerned that he’d be called out to help us. He never was as we never had to call the Coast Guard for help (knock teak – and there was a moment when I wanted to alert them … but that’s another story). He’s currently in California, recently promoted, and will be stationed in Cape Cod for the next four years. The other has taken command of a ship and taken that ship to his new post in Hawaii. As sailors, we have warm regard for the Coast Guard anyway and it is a privilege to know these two men.
In Nassau, we recently heard a great story about a US Coast Guard patrol stationed near Key Biscayne, though unfortunately I don’t know the name of their vessel.
When we arrived in No Name Harbor, we anchored near a unique trimaran sailing under the Swiss flag. We didn’t get a chance to talk with the two men aboard but did notice they were repairing the main halyard. Last week we saw the same boat in Nassau and chatted with Rudolph.
The boat had been built in Florida and the guys have been getting work done and shaking her down. (Their idea of a shake down cruise is to sail to the Bahamas. My idea is to sail from Portland to Biddeford.) We mentioned seeing their boat at No Name and he asked, “Did you see us come in under escort?”
“Why no, what’s the story?”
They had left the Florida Keys, hoping to go to the Bahamas in a weather window that was not conducive to the trip. During this brief day at sea, they had a problem with the main halyard and couldn’t lower the sail, and while trying to fix that, the owner fell off the cabin top onto one of the fiberglass pontoons injuring his knee. They thought it might be broken.
So his friend got him installed below with ice on his elevated knee, then turned back to Florida with a flapping main sail. A Coast Guard patrol hailed them. I imagine it can be a bit nerve-wracking to be hailed and boarded by a foreign coast guard vessel. We were boarded in Portland years ago for a routine safety check and it is sort of like being pulled over by 6 or 8 cops, all wearing guns. Nice cops, but still…
So the one able bodied sea man who speaks halting English described their situation to the Coast Guard boat and the crew promptly provided first aid to the injured captain and an escort to No Name Harbor – a very safe anchorage. I guess the sight of this trimaran coming into tiny and crowded No Name under Coast Guard escort created quite a stir. Once the boat was secure on the anchor, the Coast Guard notified the local hospital and the owner was transferred by ambulance.
His knee was not broken, and he was able to return to the boat. A week or so later, knee bandaged and sail fixed, they once again left for the Bahamas. As they were heading off shore, they were hailed by the same patrol boat. The crew wanted to know how the captain’s knee was doing, wished them good luck and a Happy New Year.
The Swiss sailors were impressed and grateful.