Here Endeth my Patrol on the USCG Cutter Munro

[from the vaults, 2007]

May 11

Munro from the helo.

Things I won’t forget

The schizophrenic nature of an equatorial sunrise.
Sometimes it’s a bare, self-effacing minimum of pink pastels, peeping over the edge of the world with a diffident look, as if to say, “Oh, don’t mind me, I’ll just come up over here and you go on about your business.”
Other times it boils up over the ocean in a ferocious, frothing mass, beating its orange and gold chest, daring you to look away, and you don’t, for fear of what it might do when your back is turned.

Rolling out of my rack at 4am when I hear the pipe, “Now, set Flight Condition 1! Close all doors and hatches! The smoking lamp is out!”

the Darwin sorter too little, too late

Being judged and found wanting in evolutionary excellence by the Darwin sorter.

EO Todd Raybonn’s description of the ballast evolution. “Every tank is only four valves away from sea water.” He makes the ship sound alive.


The way the flight deck seems to shrink in size the closer the helo gets to landing, whether I’m on board it or not.

me and the Twin Towers, aka Captain Barkley Lloyd and XO CDR Steve Rothchild

The absolutely unnecessary collective height of the Captain and the XO. They aren’t intimidating enough already? Sheesh.

The startling, over-the-cliff drop in crew energy and enthusiasm in mid-patrol. The grim, determined climb out of the pit, greatly aided by the crossing of the line festivities.

About which, I say only: Aaaarrrrrrrg. Though not as well as any one of the Chiefs.

Nicknames in the Chief’s Mess. I’m not telling who was called what, but they all fit. Nobody tell me what they’re calling me now that I’m gone.

The wonder in the eyes of my underway writers’ workshop as they learn what works and what doesn’t. I didn’t know I could do that.

the Captain and the kid

Our crew at that orphanage.

The pixie in the galley, aka FS2 Nicki Steele, serving midrats to the mid shift crew she treats like family. Also, her snickerdoodles.

Counting down the minutes left with the midnight-to-four watch on the bridge. Those guys are glad to see anybody.

Darkened ship, DIW, hove to beneath a moon so bright I can’t find my way home.

Things I won’t miss

Sea showers. I have too much hair for an EPAC patrol.

That’s all, really.

rendering honors

To the Captain and crew of the USCG cutter Munro,

Thank you for your tolerant acceptance of my presence among you. Thank you for your infinite patience in answering my endless questions. If I don’t get it right in the books, it won’t be your fault.

I will think of you all, I will miss you all, and I’m going to write about you all.

Now, set go fast red!

Click here to order a copy.


Dana View All →

Author and founder of

20 Comments Leave a comment

  1. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! This was my son’s first duty assignment,what an amazing unforgettable gift you have given us. The opportunity you gave us to stay connected and virtually live on the Munro has been breathtaking. You’re one kick-ass authour! Can’t wait for your book! Sending you a BIG HUG from TEXAS…Lou & Mondo :]
    P.S. any chance you’ll be near San Antonio any time soon? We have great Magaritas!

  2. Thank you for the opportunity to spend time with my daughter (SN Stephanie Deck) while on this patrol (her 2nd). Your talent, along with pictures, allowed me to feel as if I was aboard the massive cutter each & every day. I was able to understand how things operate.
    You have been a blessing to the many families of the crew. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

  3. Dana,

    If we had to pay you in compliments for all that you did for our friends, families, and my crew during you’re deployment, I couldn’t say enough! Your blogs became our daily newspapers as our families ‘joined’ us with a huge majority learning why we’ve chosen to serve. You’re observations brought joy, laughter, and helped us endure the hardship of being away. See you next time! And yes, I owe you sushi.


  4. Thank you Dana so much! We are going to miss you and your daily reports and photo’s from the Munro. Our day is just not going to be the same. I picked up “Blindfold Game” at Barnes and Noble so I look forward to reading that. We wish you all the best and will continue to tune into your blog.

    Many thanks agin from Chris McGhee’s Family

  5. Hello Dana,
    Yes, I have even been tuning in while away at training and most days would rather be there than here sitting in class! I’m excited and looking forward to getting to Alaska after all the great stories you’ve shared. Be sure to let me know when and if you’re ever in Sitka!
    Take Care,

  6. Morgan! Ca va, girlfriend? Hope buoy tender school has been a blast. Don’t forget to email your ETA in Sitka so I can put you in touch with Jan and John. We’ll all have a grand reunion in Sitka one day. Or maybe Pelican? At any rate, music will be involved. In Sitka, it can’t hardly help but be.

    Thanks again, Valerie, and Julie, and Lou and Mondo. Believe me when I say it was my very great pleasure.

    Bark, yes, you do owe me sushi, and you will pay.

    But, everybody, you should know that the Captain spent a great deal of his precious shipboard down time editing my blogs, first so I wouldn’t give away any state secrets, and second so I’d sound coherent. For a Captain in the US Coast Guard, he sure is a good editor. And yes, that is a compliment, it’s not an easy job. XO Steve Rothchild put in his share of sweat equity, too, as did LT Jimmy Terrell, MPA Andy Molnar, and LTJG Josh Dipietro. Actually, pretty much the whole crew helped me get stuff right every day.

    Also, I’d like to say this. I think, particularly when you’re in the military, that it takes a special kind of courage to let a writer this close to what you do. Bark took the chance that I’d be an asset underway instead of a liability. I was always conscious of my responsibility to first do no harm to this Captain, to his crew, and to his service.

    Doesn’t mean we didn’t have some, um, lively discussions about subject matter. It’s hell on earth to be a writer and know you’ve written something really good and not be able to let people read it.

    But as Bark said, I can always use it in the books. And I will. Hey. It’s only fiction.

  7. Dana,
    I wanted to thank you for all the information and photos you have posted for us since you boarded the Munro. I never realized all the different kinds of training they go through. It is reassuring to know that they are so well prepared for anything that might happen. Thank you Captain Lloyd.

    Carole and Don Corwin
    Proud Grandparents of
    BM2Matthew Hendricks

  8. Dana,

    You just made me cry. You will be terribly missed. My mom and dad say “ditto”.

    May the Shield of Freedom be in your heart forever.

    God Bless,

    Judi Hernandez

  9. Ms. Stabenow,
    First off I want to say sorry it took me so long to get to my last comment for you, but I got qualified in Radio. That puts more responsibilty on my shoulders, which I can mange with no problems. I want to start off by saying your missed here on the boat….I even heard someone say the other day when we did hands-on DCPQS training with desmoking eqp, “The author would love to take a picture of this desmoking we got going on here.” Well, I just wanted to say a last thank you and appreciate all the help. I am going to buy the Blindfold Game when we get back home. Once again, thanks and have a good one.


  10. Dana,

    I wasn’t on the boat and I’m sorry you’re gone. I too am going to miss the daily blogs of life on the boat. Thanks to you I’ve met some really great people…people I wouldn’t mind sharing a drink with, or even cooking for and um I don’t cook anymore. During chat last night a comment was made about writing and what I said there I want to repeat here because I feel everyone will agree…
    Some writers write, but you don’t just write and that is what does and will continue to set you apart from the others. I don’t know what it is maybe it’s your humanism, you bring a special realism to your writing. I don’t know and I don’t have the words to express myself properly I just know you don’t just write.

    I love your writing.

    To the crew of the Munro…you folks are kick ass and it was my pleasure to be on deployment with you…and it was an honor to meet your families.


  11. Never thought I would miss a daily blog so much. It is hard to drink coffee in the morning without the update.

    Good hunting Munro – thoughts and prayers are with you.

  12. Miss Stabenow,

    Thank you for your guidance and your ceaseless curiosity. You reawakened the wonder for being at sea I thought I had lost. More importantly, you reawakened my creativity and my passion for writing.
    It’s not the same patrol without you.



  13. Good morning, Dana. I really miss your blogs from the Munro every morning! Landlubber that I am, I learned much about the Coast Guard that was all new to me and developed a high regard for the young men and women who serve. And I enjoyed meeting you at the Eureka Springs Books in Bloom event. Thank you for coming. I hope you enjoyed your visit to Arkansas and will perhaps come again. I have now introduced my granddaughter to Kate and am happy to say you have another great fan. We both are looking forward with great anticipation to the next one! Thank you!

    Betty Duke

  14. Very interesting and enlightening insights into life on a USCG ship.

    I wanted to pass on the link below, which came up in the context of a discussion I had with some other boaters, about the unique legal authority the Coasties have. Perhaps you can work it into a story somewhere.

    Best from a devoted fan,

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