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cadet blogs

Small Boat Station Life

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link   All Posts
Ritchie Photo For the second half of my summer training program, I went to small boat station Ponce de Leon Inlet in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Officers in the Coast Guard don’t get stationed at small boat stations, so this was the only opportunity I would get to experience one. My friend, Katie Neubig, and I were lucky enough to be stationed together, and we had a blast in our six weeks there. We earned our Communications Watchstander qualifications in the first two weeks and then spent the next weeks trying to get boat crew sign-offs, standing watch, and helping the crew around the station.

 

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we and the crew ran, played ultimate Frisbee, or surfed in the morning before boat checks. The work day went from around 0730 to 1500. Day-workers were done after the work day; people on duty had to stay at the station all night. Katie and I lived on the station, but we alternated which of us day-worked each day, so one of us could technically leave after 1500. Usually we just ended up staying at the station and catching up on sleep, though. We had our fun on the weekends. We had the opportunity to go to Disney World and a NASCAR race. For the NASCAR race, we were given free tickets and went to participate in the flag unfurling ceremony on July 5. It ended up being rained out, but we got to go back the day after in civilian clothes to watch the postponed race since we had the tickets. While in uniform on the first day, we went to victory lane and ran into a group of men who each had a medal of honor. We were star struck. These were real American heroes. We looked one of them up, and found out they’d fought in Vietnam. I think Sergeant First Class Gary Littrell ended up saying, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” the next day.

 

The most exciting thing that happened at Station Ponce while we were there was a migrant case. It is unusual to have migrants around central Florida, but we had a case of Haitian migrants one night. It was a weekend, so Katie and I were off. When we arrived at the station, there was only one crew member there, standing the communications watch. She asked us to come help her and explained the case to us. I relieved her at 2000 and stood watch until 0300 the next morning when Katie relieved me. I found it so fascinating to listen to the case progress over the radio and log all the information I heard. It was awesome to be a part of a real Coast Guard mission.

 

More about Sarah.