Coast Guard rescues 3

Off the Carolina coast.  Pretty much par for the course, but there’s one part of the article that I wanted to point out in particular.

After a four hour transit, in 10 to 12-foot seas and 30 knot winds, aboard their 47-foot motor life boat, Station Wrightsville Beach’s rescue crew arrived on scene at 12:00 a.m., and took the sailboat in tow.

Emphasis is mine.  Now, if you’ve never been on a 47-footer, it is not a big boat.  To say that it is a “tight fit” is putting it nicely.  Four hours in that boat on smooth as glass sea would be a long time, to say nothing of 10 foot seas and 30 knot winds.

The 47 is a great rescue implement – in fact it’s one of the toughest little boats ever made.  Four hours on that boat in that kind of weather takes a special kind of person – a person called a Coastie.

BM1 Schwalm and his crew get a hearty Bravo Zulu for their successful rescue.


  1. Good on ’em.

    From a Marine, any amount of time on a boat sans babes or booze is a rough trip. Four hours and rough seas? I’d a been puking my guts out and praying for death…

  2. Man, that far out in those seas I’m surprised they used a 47 boat. No protectors or islands in the area?

    Moderate seas in a 47 boat for 8 hours with a boatbaby recovery and 5 puking civvies for half of it… Surfmen have got balls man.

  3. 87s and 110s aren’t as good towing platforms for smaller rigs like that sailboat as a 47. Plus, there probably weren’t any in the area.

    We’re spread pretty thin.

  4. “87s and 110s aren’t as good towing platforms for smaller rigs like that sailboat as a 47. ”

    I guess I’m just too much of a landlubber Ahab, but can you edjamacate me about this?

    Thanks, GaryN

  5. Before I continue, I should add that I was a Gunner’s Mate, and not a Boatswain’s Mate so I’m not the best person to talk to.

    However, I was always instructed that the 47 foot Motor Life Boat was a better platform for towing small boats, such as a the sailboat in this article, than the 87 foot or 110 foot cutters.

    The 87s and 110s, whose official class names are Protector and Island, respectively, were apparently not as good for towing. Like I said, it’s what I was told, so don’t quote me.

    That being said, the most likely reason that a small boat (the 47) was dispatched is probably because the station was the closest thing to the people in trouble. Like I said, the Coast Guard is spread pretty thin.

  6. You know, a lot of people (myself included) and all of the other services give the Coasties a hard time every chance they get… But the fact of the matter is that most Coasties out there have some of the biggest balls in the uniformed services, period. No, they may not always be on the front lines, putting lead on heads, but they risk their lives on a daily basis, saving people who, more often than not, put themselves in the life-threatening situation… for little thanks, less pay, and sucky hours.

    Good on them.

  7. THe 47s are definitely a better tow vessel, no question. Their drive system was designed specifically to do three things:

    1. Be maneuverable (and yes, that is a function of the drive system)
    2. Deal with heavy weather
    3. Tow disabled craft

    They’re amazing boats really. I saw a discovery type special on them a while back.

    Course the boat aint nothing without the coxswain and crew. It rates a BM1 as cox (do they rate them masters for boats that small?), an Eng1, and two SM.

    I’m not sure about the cost guard (I think they average a bit older), but in the Navy the combined age of the 4 crew would probably be less than 90 years old.

    A motor lifeboat is a hell of a lot of responsibility for someone who may be as young as 26. Well and ably executed.

    No greater love hath any man than this, that he lay down his life for another.

  8. They do rate chiefs for boats those size – the Small Boat station I did a little TAD at was commanded by a Senior Chief; he was also the senior cox for the two boats we had.

  9. I did a stint as a contractor at USCG TISCOM in Alexandria VA (don’t recall the base name). Every coastie i’ve ever met had a stack of sea stories. I suppose it helps that y’all go to sea a lot more than the navy does. My father did a 20-year stint in the USNR and managed to go to sea once; on an italian destroyer during a drill weekend on the Med.

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