Featured Photo and the Story Behind It

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weehawken, NJ- Original photo of Mary Prusko awarding Brad Vickers a VSC decal after passing a vessel safety check. (Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Auxiliarist Helen Glass)

On Saturday, June 10th, 2006, 16 individuals in four teams set off from Liberty Yacht Club, Jersey City, in the New York Harbor, in the world’s first North Atlantic Ocean Rowing Race – the Shepherds Ocean Fours Rowing Race 2006. Not only was this the first North Atlantic Ocean Rowing Race, but it was also the first ever to finish in the United Kingdom.

Article by By Auxiliarist Vera Reed, Franklin, NJ

Using identical 29 ft. ocean rowing boats, known as the Woodvale Fours class, these four teams raced on equal terms across 3100nm route to Falmouth, UK. They competed for the greatest endurance accolade available- to be the first to cross the finish line of the most awesome event, in the fastest possible time. Along the way the crews would face many obstacles, including huge North Atlantic swells the height of a house, winds reaching storm Force 10 and container ships the size of a block of flats in one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. The success in an event of this magnitude requires a combination of skills including teamwork, navigation, weather and routing skills, physical and mental strength and to a certain degree an element of luck.

But before they left for this courageous voyage, Mary Prusko, a U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist, and other Auxiliarists gave the rowing boats Vessel Safety Checks. The Vessel Safety Check is a complimentary examination that is available to any recreational boater. This examination, performed by qualified Auxiliary members, helps boaters insure their boat’s compliance with Federal regulations.

“A VSC is done as a courtesy and with no risk to the boater–you won’t be in trouble if discrepancies are found,” said BoatU.S. Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety, Ted Sensenbrenner. Vessel examiners review both the required and recommended items to have aboard, including life jackets, distress signals, first aid kits, and navigation lights, and also provide tips on the care and use of safety equipment. Additional items covered include the use of local navigation charts, float plans, safe refueling and ventilation practices, marine heads, weather and sea conditions, and survival tips.

A fellow Auxiliarist, Helen Glass, snapped a picture of Ms. Prusko shaking hands with Brad Vickers, skipper of the James Robert Hanssen who just passed the VSC and was awarded a VSC decal.  The James Robert Hanssen won the race but the story doesn’t end there.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary 2012 Vessel Safety Check Poster

In 2007, Helen Glass submitted her photo into the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Public Affairs Photography Contest and it won 2nd place. The two were elated that the photo won. Then unbeknownst to either Auxiliarist, 6 years later, the photo was picked to be a feature photograph on the National 2012 VSC Poster.  When Mary Prusko was shown the new poster she exclaimed “Hey, That’s me!” And this is the story behind the photo.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard created by an Act of Congress in 1939. The Auxiliary, America’s Volunteer Lifesavers, support the Coast Guard in nearly all of the service’s missions.

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