Oh boy, boat ride!

[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]

March 20

Today a fishing vessel would not respond to our hail so we sent a boat over to talk to them. We see gear in the water and it’s smaller than your average mother ship, but it gives us a chance, the captain says, “to push the button.”


The away team members are duly assembled, we get a GAR (green-amber-red, rating each action 1 to 10, 1 being low risk, 10 too high) assessment that is well in the green for launch.

boat crew list

The away team is cautioned as to their actions as the F/V is Mexican and unless and until there is cause for more than talk, our guys will only talk to the fishermen—they won’t even let our boat touch hulls with the F/V. And, as we expected, they didn’t have the proper radio with which to respond to our hail, so our boat returns to the ship.

Mun1on the crane

After lunch we give the fire drill another try, and this time it runs like clockwork. “This is why we practice over and over and over” the captain says), so well that during the boat drill later that afternoon, four people who performed extra well get to go along.

loading the away team P1010014 our away team P1010019 P1010024

We have two boats that go very fast, used in conjunction with the helo we will take on later to interdict go fasts (drug smugglers). Riding in them is an objective of pretty much everyone on board from the captain on down. I, who have done nothing to merit the privilege, am invited to go along.


If I were a better person I would have yielded my place to a deserving crew member, but I’m not, so I got to go OTH (over the horizon) on Mun1.


On Mun1 are BM2 Stephen Garon,BM2 Matthew Hendricks, BM3 Jordan Wagstaff, and SN Jonathon Sardinha, along with MK3 Christopher Flores, EM3 Demetrick Moore, IT1 Damian Zura and me, and one more, ET1 James Pisano, the tech coaxing the radios to work.

the view from Mun1

We drive straight into the sun, going a classified amount of knots, fast enough that we spend a considerable amount of time airborne. (Boat jockeys are the same wherever you go.) Both boats, Mun1 and Mun2, have been launched and both were outfitted with new radio equipment in port. Because tech will screw you every time, on land, sea or air, it takes a lot of strong language before the two boats can hear each other and the ship as well.


We meet up at our way point, and because this is the Coast Guard and crosstraining is like a mantra for them (nobody and I mean nobody has only one job in the US Coast Guard, and if you do then you sure aren’t having as much fun as you could be), everyone changes seats, the coxswain comes aft to navigation, navigation switches to communications, and navigation takes the conn.

Mun2 crew

“Be cool if we saw a go fast out here,” I heard someone say.


Seems shorter coming back, probably because I didn’t want to. We sidle up to the starboard side of the ship, the deck crew throws us a weighted line we fasten off to the bow, we pay out the line until we’re below the davits on the crane, the shackles descend, we fasten them off to bow and stern, the coxswain checks again to see that we all put our helmets on like we were supposed to before we approached the ship, and we are hoisted up to the boat deck.

Deck crew

No kidding, guys. Slicker than snot.

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Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hi Dana,
    Sounds like you’re picking up right where you left off with the Alex Hailey trip, just maybe a tad warmer.

    I have a few questions..
    1) Do you get seasick?, or has your previous boating experience helped you deal with it?

    2) Have you had the opportunity to start your book discussion group yet? What are you reading first?

    3)Do you walk around the deck making notes, or do you wait until the end of the day to put thoughts to paper?

    Sounds like they’re really putting you to work… and that you’re loving it. Enjoy!


  2. I enjoy read your page everyday, It let’s me get an insite as to what me son does. He was on the boat ride with you (BM2 Matthew Hendricks). We’re real proud of him and all the boy’s. I also feel that they have a good Capt. Thank you for writing keep it up.
    Caryn Hendricks

  3. There is no swell to speak of, so no seasickness. Conventional wisdom on board is that this is what we can expect, barring a hurricane.

    The underway book club meets for the first time this Friday. We’ll be talking about Nancy Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion. I picked it precisely because of the patrol these guys would be on.

    I watch and listen and then write the blog at the end of the day. LT James Terrell, aka Ops or the Operations officer, looks up stuff for me, like names of crew members and their jobs. He is very patient and long-suffering.

    We had the most amazing lunch today, gyros and spanakopita and stuffed grape leaves. Our food services officer, Senior Chief Georgios Minos, is Greek, and oh my, has he trained his FSOs well. The food on this ship is great.

  4. Caryn – Your son is an outstanding Coast Guardsman. Consistently shows exceptional judgment and professionalism. A welcome and vital member of the team. No wonder you’re proud.

  5. Dear Dana,

    Have wanted to thank both the captain for his family gram, which my son, Eric, forwarded, and you for the beautifully descriptive narrative of life on the Munro, and of the thoroughness of thought and training that goes into their work.

    As a mother, it has been very reassuring reading what life is like on the Munro for my son. And then, in today’s blog, you wrote of guns, and practice, and classified areas… . And those words brought home the reality of the work that my son and the rest of the crew are there for. And even more thankfulness for the thoroughness of the preparation and training that goes on.

    Carol Golder

  6. Thanks so much for the comment, Carol. Yes, this part of the training is sobering, to say the least, but they do train, very hard, over and over again (I was just talking to LTJG Barbieri on the bridge about this, she is the Munro’s training officer). Not only does the crew train, but the TT (training team) evaluates every exercise, and then when they get back to port the TT itself is evaluated on how they evaluate. If you’re still with me.

    It does pay off. I saw that in the Bering on the Alex Haley.

  7. Dearest Dana. How I envy your days on The USCGC Munro. “Thank you’ for sharing. It has been a joy reading your daily blogs. As well as hoping I’ll see a photo of my “coastie”. And today I hit the jackpot (SN Deck fieldstripping the 50-caliber).
    I look forward to choosing 1 of your paperbacks at the library.

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