Coast Guard Auxiliary Offers Education, Fun

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary members test dry suits on April 2, 2012. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Would you be interested in being a photographer for a polar expedition? Would you like to be a chef coordinating thousands of dinners? Or do you just want to know how to send out a Mayday when a day out on the water takes a bad turn? The United Sates Coast Guard (USCG) Auxiliary could be how you get there.

Article by Meg Olson, republished with permission from All Point Bulletin

“We are all volunteers and we come from all walks of life, men and women,” said Gary Cordrey, commander of USCG Auxiliary Flotilla  based in Blaine, WA.

Cordrey said the Auxiliary was formed in 1939 “to assist the USCG in fulfilling their mission. “Our whole purpose is safe boating and educating the public,” Cordrey said. But there are many other ways auxiliary members can do that, some on the water and some off.

“There are a phenomenal amount of different activities available to members,” Cordrey said. “We have a lot of USCG classes and anybody can go to them.”

One of the local Auxiliary members has trained at USCG expense to become an auxiliary chef who can coordinate events and food services on any USCG vessel. Another has trained as a pollution control expert who responds to local spills when dispatched by the USCG. Yet another received training in photography and has participated in USCG polar expeditions. Members have trained in incident response, safe boating practices, communications, vessel inspection and many other areas that they can then bring back to their communities.

“Classes offered to the boating community are one of the core activities for the auxiliary,” Cordrey said, “including basic boating, navigation, rules of the road and emergency preparedness.”

“A new and very successful addition,” Cordrey said, “was the Suddenly in Command class, a boating class for women, taught by women.”

“The reason for it is that in the boating community the highest number of operators are men and the women do something else,” Cordrey said. “Our goal is to get these women to be confident and to see they can do this. Women will ask questions in a group of women they won’t ask if there are men present.”

The class ran in Point Roberts in January and was attended by 30 local women. Instructor Kathryn Wellington said the class was enthusiastically received and another class, planned for April 28 at the Point Roberts Marina, is already full.

“We will do another one in Point Roberts in the fall,” she said.

Another public education function is free vessel exams. “We come on your boat at your request and determine the condition of the boat itself and USCG mandated safety equipment,” Cordrey said. “We are not a policing agency, and it’s up to [the boat’s owner] to correct any deficiencies we might find.”

While the local Auxiliary does not have dedicated vessels, Cordrey said eight of their 44 members have had their boats certified and equipped as USCG facilities. “We can go out under orders from the Coast Guard to do patrols, or they can call us if they need assistance in this area,” Cordrey said.

The Auxiliary is looking to expand its membership in Blaine and hopes to establish a subgroup in Point Roberts.

“We’re looking for anybody that would just like to get involved and help other people,” Cordrey said.

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  1. JIM BILECI says:


  2. Dave Springer says:


    Where are you located? The fiance’ & I both just had the Auxchef class & I have some non CG experience running the kitchen in my Lions Club.

    We are on the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities area on the Iowa Illinois border. If you are reasonably close we could possibly set something up. We still both need to do a few simple things to finish up the PQS. Things like make some eggs & brew a pot of coffee.

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