For a Houston-based United States Coast Guard crew, tenacity and tactics saved two lives.
An uneasy mix of gratitude and dread grabs me every time I see one of those orange United States Coast Guard helicopters high above my home and on its way to the Pacific Ocean waters off Northern California. The water is cold year-round here, and while the biggest seas save themselves for winter—the famed Maverick’s big-wave surf spot is less than 30 minutes from my doorstep—they can rise without warning. In the afternoons here, onshore winds tend to howl.
These waters are dangerous for all mariners, as well as the good men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard who have the job of trying to save lives when things go bad. For commercial and recreational vessel operators and their crews, the Coast Guard can be the final line of defense in an emergency, the last—and far and away best—hope.
Respect does not even begin to describe my feelings for these committed life-savers. They don’t make much money. Their lives are not easy. And all too often, they’re taken for granted.