Finals week passed by quicker than expected, and that is because I was so focused on studying and packing up for the summer. The day after finals I flew down to Puerto Rico, which was paid for by the Coast Guard. They take care of most travel expenses and food while you travel. As soon as I got down there I spoke to the cutter’s Executive Officer, who was my point of contact. He gave me and the 3/c that was assigned on my cutter the day off because it was Mother’s Day. It was nice to spend some time with my family while I was off duty on the island.
After Mother’s Day it was right to work, as soon as I got on board I grabbed a paint brush and helped the enlisted out. Being the new guy on the cutter, you have to show the crew that you are willing to work hard and in return they will help you become a better officer. The day after painting, my new cutter had to move piers and the Captain assigned me to conning officer for the evolution. On a 110-foot patrol boat, the conning officer’s job is to simply drive the cutter. Since it was only my second day there and I already had to drive made me a little nervous. I had never driven a boat bigger than a 25-foot small boat, so many things went through my mind. What if I crashed the boat into the pier, or what if I am bad at ship handling? On top of my worries, the Captain looked at me and asked if I was nervous, so I answered honestly. He said to me “Good! You are supposed to be nervous”. That gave me some confidence and I moved to a different pier with no problems.
The next day, my cutter was recalled into a patrol because there was a Haitian vessel adrift in distress many nautical miles from St. Thomas. Quickly I learned about the speed on 110s as we were on scene within hours. At first I felt a little sick, but that all went away quickly after I got my sea legs back under me. Whenever I felt sick, I would just go lay down on my rack in aft berthing. We got the vessel water and the supplies that they needed to stay alive but could not tow them, as they were a much bigger vessel than we were.
More about Carlos.