Since we’re always looking for a reason to visit Sausalito, the idea of touring the Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat Station Golden Gate during their annual Safe Boating Expo seemed an excellent way to spend last Saturday morning. Getting the chance to tour the vessels was a highlight. While onboard the 47-ft Motor Lifeboat, the question most often asked was, "Is this the boat that rights itself when it flips over?" The Coast Guard personnel patiently and politely replied each time, "Yes, in the extremely rare scenario of a capsize, it will right itself."
The event was very well attended. There were many families with lots of youngsters who were very excited to romp around the vessels and pretend to steer from the flybridge, while wearing the junior-sized lifejackets that the Coast Guard were giving away, along with the adult-sized PFDs that ‘sold out’ within the first hour.
Right on schedule at noon, a Coast Guard helicopter buzzed the crowds and hovered off the pier at Fort Baker, near the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. We soon spotted a pair of flippers dangling out the open starboard doorway, and watched a rescue swimmer jump into the frigid Bay waters. As the helicopter circled away to the east, the bright orange smoke from the swimmer’s flare wafted behind him. The crew of a Coast Guard Auxiliary boat was standing by as the helicopter returned, hovered directly over the swimmer, and lowered a sling. With the stirred-up air and water, it took the swimmer a couple of tries, but he eventually grabbed the line, harnessed himself in and his crew winched him back aboard the helicopter.
A second swimmer jumped in and repeated the training drill, to the delight of onlookers, especially the youngsters — some wearing little fire fighter hats that had been given to them by the Tiburon Fire Dept. That agency also had a vessel at the Expo along with vessels from the Marin Sheriff’s Dept. and a San Francisco Police rigid inflatable.
It was an honor for us to have an opportunity to thank the Coast Guard and other rescue personnel in person for their hard work in keeping us boaters safe.