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January 18, 2019

Another Coast Guard Shutdown Story

With no end in sight for the longest government shutdown in American history, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced the “Pay Our Coast Guard Act.” In short, the bill would fund the CG during the shutdown, or in legal speak, “for any period during which interim or full-year appropriations for the Coast Guard are not in effect.” The bill was introduced into the Senate by South Dakota Senator John Thune, a Republican, and introduced into the House of Representatives by Oregon congressman Peter DeFazio, a Democrat.

On Wednesday, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan (R) took the floor to urge the Senate to pass the bill ensuring “that the more than 41,000 active members and retirees of the US Coast Guard be paid throughout the partial government shutdown,” Sullivan’s website said. “The men and women of the US Coast Guard . . . are working today, like every other member of the military, risking their lives here, in my State of Alaska, and overseas in the Middle East, and are not getting paid to do so,” Sullivan said in his floor speech on Wednesday.

BoatUS has created a link where mariners can write their members of Congress urging them to support the temporary-funding bill (thanks to Scuttlebutt for that tip).

On Tuesday, Coast Guard Commandant Karl L. Schultz issued a statement to those in his charge: “Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck. To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation’s history that service members in a US Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations.”

As lawmakers have pointed out — and as we’ve said in previous stories — the Coast Guard is still on the job both on behalf of mariners and as agents of Homeland Security, even though they’re not getting paid.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard issued a heavy-weather warning for Northern California as an especially frisky storm blasted through. (This is a file photo not related to Wednesday’s weather.)
© 2019 USCG

Yesterday, the Coast Guard ended a search for two people on the Mississippi River after their boat had reportedly capsized. On Wednesday, the Coast Guard responded to a report of three stowaways, who were reported to be Central American men, on a merchant vessel just offshore of Miami. The fact that the Coast Guard also serves as a de facto border patrol agent of the high seas adds no small degree of irony to the quagmire over funding border security.

And as we’ve reported before, there are a number of community efforts to support the Coast Guard. Several yacht clubs — including South Beach YC, Berkeley YC, Loch Lomond YC, Oakland YC, Richmond YC and Corinthian YC  — are already reaching out to help the CG through fundraisers and free meals.

If you’re interested in helping out, “one  thing to be mindful of — do not reach out to individual units or CG stations,” Winston Bumpus, the Jr. Staff Commodore of the PICYA, wrote us this morning. “A CG member in uniform or on a CG installation has very strict rules on accepting gifts. All support can be funneled through the Chief Petty Officer Association Golden Gate Chapter. They are a tax-deductible 501c(19) and able to accept any type of donation and will ensure that they go to our Coasties in need. They can also provide a letter or receipt.”

If interested, please contact President -ITC Rick Paauwe, Chief Petty Officer Association Golden Gate Chapter
(EIN 23-7444718) Coast Guard Island, 1 Eagle Rd, Bldg 15, Alameda, CA 94501-8422. The phone number is 510-437-6624

“I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation places on you and your family, and we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf,” said  Commandant Schultz in his statement to the Coast Guard. “To this end, I am encouraged to share that Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) has received a $15 million donation from USAA to support our people in need.”

Cruisers Work and Play at Fiesta de Veleros

“The Barra de Navidad community looks forward to cruisers arriving in our port. We have prepared a week of work and fun activities, and businesses are waiting to serve you. Your welcome bag will include a copy of the itinerary, a map of the town, a 2-for-1 coupon for breakfast, lunch or dinner in Barra, beer tickets, a T-shirt of the Fiesta de Veleros event, and more!” So say the organizers of the Fiesta de Veleros Cruise-In Week, to be held in February in Barra de Navidad. “Local merchants and the tourist bureau are providing swag bags full of goodies for the cruisers who are doing the parade and giving rides. We even have lots of T-shirts this year.”

Map of Mexican coast
Barra de Navidad lies along the Jalisco coast between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo.
© 2019 Google Maps

Monday-Tuesday, February 18-19, 2019

Register on Monday, February 18, or Tuesday the 19th. Dinghy races will be held on Tuesday — oars only, no motors allowed — in the resort lagoon, rather than at the beach party later in the week. (The surf at the beach is too big for safe dinghy landing, but just right for a beach party and bonfire.) The Grand Marina offers a great discount for people coming for the week. Harbormaster Secondino Alvarez is bending over backward to make it a fun time for everybody. On Tuesday evening there will be a no-host cocktail party with snacks in the Piano Bar at the Grand Isla Hotel and Marina.

Aerial view of Marina
The beach and sailing action happen right outside the tony Marina Puerto de la Navidad at the Grand Isla Navidad Resort.
© 2019 Scott Stolnitz

Wednesday-Thursday, February 20-21

They need lots of volunteers on Wednesday morning to paint the elementary school in front of the Hotel Barra. The locals will give the cruisers a thank-you reception at one of the schools on Thursday. “This is one reason why it’s so great doing things for the villagers in Mexico,” says Pat McIntosh. “They really show their appreciation.”

Friday-Saturday, February 22-23

On Friday afternoon, the cruisers will play games, including volleyball and tug-of-war,  with local school kids. The big beach party, with a bonfire, will follow. Saturday night will feature a Mexican fiesta, with folkloric dancing and live music, in the town square. “I hear they are bringing back the dancing horses that were so fantastic last year!” says McIntosh.

Sunday-Monday, February 24-25

The boat parade and sailing on Bahia Navidad will start at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The ticket price, 500 pesos (about $26 in US dollars), will benefit the elementary schools and CETAC technical high school. The tourism board has organized a Salute to Sailors no-host dinner/dance, with another swag bag, to wrap up the festivities on Monday evening at Punta Navidad on the lagoon.

CU map of Barra
A rugged coastline, a long ocean beach and a large lagoon are among the features of Barra de Navidad.
© 2019 Google Maps

For more information, contact Pat McIntosh at [email protected] or by cell phone at (916) 458-1882; or Linda Bello-Ruiz by cell phone at (707) 331-3684 or (315) 355-8405.

Safety at Sea in SoCal

Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey hosted the first 2019 US Sailing 2-day offshore Safety at Sea seminar on January 12-13. The classroom filled to capacity with 83 entrants. Del Rey welcomed people from all over North America, representing 21 yacht clubs, including Royal Victoria YC in Canada and stateside clubs from as far away as Chicago.

The first day was held in the classroom from 8:30 to 5:30. Bruce Brown, the instructor, had us all riveted with his anecdotes, knowledge and humor. Dr. Robert Merz, DRYC fleet surgeon, presented a description of what goes on in the emergency room versus being on a boat with an injured party. It gave everyone a new perspective of what could happen and how to handle the injured person.

Wendy Sarnoff
Captain Wendy Sarnoff shows how to rig a Lifesling and tie a line.
© 2019 Andy Kopetzky

The second day began with one hour in the classroom. Participants then split up into groups: personal safety gear, damage control, maintenance and repair, and firefighting and flares.

Bruce Brown at the pool
Instructor Bruce Brown, poolside with the ‘Crew Overboard’.
© 2019 Judy Gavin

Everyone had to go into the pool with all of their foul weather gear on, including boots. Some were surprised that their boots floated! The students learned how to survive while waiting to be rescued, which could take a long time. They did a group huddle and were amazed to realize how much warmer they were. Then they learned how to do a caterpillar group. (A caterpillar is made when survivors wrap their legs around the waist of fellow survivors in the water to avoid getting separated.) Then they climbed into a liferaft, which was no easy feat. Some were also surprised that being in the water for 25 minutes was not as bad as they’d thought it would be. Having said that, it is a pool and not the ocean.

Author Judy Gavin and fellow students try out the liferaft.
© 2019 Courtesy Judy Gavin

Additional instructors were: Mike Hakala, Life Raft training, Cold-Water Survival and PFD training; Captain Wendy Sarnoff, Crew Overboard Rescue; Dave Robertson, PFD Rearming; Carl Sarnoff, Damage Control; and Dave Robertson, Firefighting and Flares.

Students in the pool
Thumbs up from students in the club’s pool. We assume they spent some time in the deep end too!
© 2019 Judy Gavin

The seminar closed with a raffle giving out ditch bags with EPIRBS attached. This course is not just for racers. Everyone should be educated in safety on the boat. Even if you don’t own a boat, you can learn how to survive while waiting for rescue. You can’t call an Uber.

Readers — Find a US Safety at Sea Seminar near you at Find a Sail Canada Offshore Personal Survival Course here: We also try to include as many of the West Coast seminars as possible in our monthly Calendar. — ed.

Jules Verne Trophy
French sailor Yann Guichard and the crew of Spindrift 2 set sail on a new Jules Verne Trophy attempt at Ushant today, Wednesday, January 16.
Closing the Loop
Webb Chiles, 77, is about to sail from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, for Panama and San Diego, in Gannet, his ultralight Moore 24, to complete his sixth circumnavigation and her first. Since leaving San Diego in 2014, Gannet's daily runs total 25,028 miles.
Commuting by Water
San Francisco Bay Ferry, aka WETA, a public agency, runs the new service. A catamaran, Cetus will cover the route to the San Francisco Ferry Building in about 35 minutes.