The Coast Guard has a long tradition of honor, respect and devotion to duty. Those commitments spread throughout the service and certainly include the Auxiliary -- an all-volunteer arm of the Coast Guard.
So what exactly does the Coast Guard Auxiliary mean to Lake Thurmond? First, let's look at the Coast Guard goals for our lake. They are rather basic and include both safety and security issues.
By the start of the next boating season, the CSRA Flotilla of the Auxiliary will:
- Have a minimum of five operational patrol boats and five two-person crews.
- Conduct safety and security patrols most weekends and on special holidays and events.
- Have a rescue boat and crew on "stand-by" status at all times.
- Conduct monthly boating safety classes for the boating public from March through September.
- Conduct a minimum of 150 Vessel Safety Checks during 2009.
- Have at least one aircraft based in the CSRA with a trained three-person crew.
- Establish a marine radio network for the southern part of the CSRA.
While there are other minor programs, these objectives spell out the most important needs. Let's look at the first two this week and then the others next Sunday.
The first three go hand in hand. We are looking for volunteers who want to be a part of these patrols. If you have a boat, you may want it to be available for patrol work. Don't worry; you get to operate your own boat and have final say as to a mission. When your boat is under orders and on patrol, you will be reimbursed for fuel and meals and you are covered for liability issues.
If you do not own a boat, you can be a part of the action by crewing on one of our vessels.
In any event, new crew members will be trained to Coast Guard standards. The first qualification is to become "crew qualified." This is accomplished by both classroom and on-water training. You will be assigned a mentor -- a qualified auxiliary member who will guide you through your training.
The second qualification is "coxswain." He or she is the mission commander who plans and executes missions.
In order to participate, you must be at least 17 years old, a U.S. citizen and a member of the Auxiliary. Our dues are $27 each year, and you purchase your own uniform (less than $100). The Flotilla meets on the second Tuesday of each month at the El Valle restaurant in the K-mart shopping center. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the short business meeting starts at 7. This is followed by a training session.
If you are interested, please come to one of our meetings, or contact me directly and I can give you more details and answer your questions.
I am often asked, "How much of my time will membership require?" We are all volunteers, so the amount of time spent is in your hands. Having said that, unless your lifestyle will permit a minimum of eight hours a month, you probably should not volunteer.
Next week, we will have a look at the other missions of the Flotilla.
Don't forget to consider attending our next basic boating course to be held Saturday. This will be the last course for this year.
For details and to enroll, contact either John VanOsdol at (864) 391-2170 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jay Weidman at (800) 533-3478, ext. 1172, or email@example.com.
John L. VanOsdol is commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, CSRA Flotilla. He can be reached at (864) 391-2170, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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