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Old 14-10-2010, 08:20   #1
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USCG Auxilliary Authority ?

The Coast Guard Auxilliary operates out of my marina and I see where some members have all the signs and flags all over their boats while they don their spiffy little uniforms and PFD's.

The other day I noted that one fellow has gone so far as to mount revolving red light on his T-top. Ya know, like the old style "bubble gum" machine on top of older cop cars. It got me to wondering just what it is they actually do besides cruising up and down the river. The light is meaningless. The only recognized flashing light is blue for law enforcement. I don't believe they have the authority to stop anyone or issue citations. If someone goes blasting through a no wake zone all they can do is yell like the rest of us.

So just what are they supposed to be doing while burning taxpayer fuel?

Just curious,
Rich
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Old 14-10-2010, 08:32   #2
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The flasing light should be red and yellow alternating. Approved for any vessels engaged in public assistance. Almost all commercial towing vessels display this type of light. USCG Aux have no police authority, but are on patrol to render assistnce in an "emergency" situation. They are not even supposed to tow in non-emergency situations, such as mechanical breakdown or out of fuel, unless the distressed vessel is in danger, such as adrift in a channel. Then they are to tow the vessel out of danger and anchor it in a safe location to await commercial assistance.
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Old 14-10-2010, 09:01   #3
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The flasing light should be red and yellow alternating. Approved for any vessels engaged in public assistance. Almost all commercial towing vessels display this type of light. USCG Aux have no police authority, but are on patrol to render assistnce in an "emergency" situation. They are not even supposed to tow in non-emergency situations, such as mechanical breakdown or out of fuel, unless the distressed vessel is in danger, such as adrift in a channel. Then they are to tow the vessel out of danger and anchor it in a safe location to await commercial assistance.

They need authorization from the Coast Guard before they can tow if they are on a sanctioned patrol.

Foggy
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Old 14-10-2010, 09:54   #4
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volunteer org, tax dollars? In the past have had them come down to the boat for safety inspections and put their sticker on the mast, cut down on boardings. Had my first boarding 2days ago, passed of course, that was by the real deal of course, definetely all good guys and gals.
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Old 14-10-2010, 10:31   #5
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... The Auxiliary operates safety and regatta patrols and is an integral part of the Coast Guard Search and Rescue team. Auxiliarists also stand communication watches, assist during mobilization exercises, perform harbor and pollution patrols, provide platforms for unarmed boarding parties and recruit new people for the Service.
Following passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1996. The Auxiliary assists the Coast Guard, as authorized by the Commandant, in performance of any Coast Guard function, duty, role, mission or operation authorized by law...
About the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
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Old 14-10-2010, 10:34   #6
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Quote:
If someone goes blasting through a no wake zone all they can do is yell like the rest of us.
They do however, have a radio and, as a USCG auxiliary, their call to the local USCG vessel or water police will probably receive a bit more attention than some irate boater.
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Old 14-10-2010, 10:43   #7
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Back in the 80's I was an active member of the CG aux. Good organization doing essentially volunteer work.

If you were on an authorized patrol, you were reimbursed for operating expenses by the CG, the idea was that it is much better to have these trained volunteers being used for the simple SAR issues that arise and keep the more epensive units for those that required a higher level of response and expertise. While in Hawaii, I was assigned as the USN component to the Joint Rescue Center, and the system worked well. The patrols, when available, did free up dedicated SAR assests from having to do standard patrols thereby allowing more efficient use of the higher costs assests!

The aux also provide educational courses in power and sailing.

They do a volunteer safety inspection and if you have a current decal, that means that you will be less likely to be boarded by the regular CG for a routine safety inspection.

They also had a program for reporting corrections to nautical charts, probably still do!

All in all, it was a good organization, I was involved in both Maine and Hawaii, good folks interested in helping other folks on boats.

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Old 14-10-2010, 11:21   #8
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Auxilliary provides importan SAR coverage

Here in Alaska, as you might imagine, the regular USCG is spread very thin, over a vast area. The Auxillary helps provide much of the routine SAR coverage for the more popular recreational boating areas. The USCG has provided several local Auxillary Flotillas with highly capable "SAFEboats" to use in patrol activities. They are the closest formal SAR presence in Western Prince William Sound, and have helped many boaters in trouble. I believe the Whittier Flotilla was the first in the nation to recieve one of these boats. See Unit Home for some history. As others have noted, teaching boating classes to the public is also an important mission. If you get tired of idiot boaters who don't have a clue about the rules of the road, then you should applaud the Auxilliary's efforts!

Having spent many days out on the cold water (in kayaks, skiffs, and sailing) of Resurrection Bay, Prince William Sound, and Kachemak Bay, I am damn glad they are around. I know some of the Auxilliary folks personally, and they are good people who volunteer their own time (for free) to the public. If you meant "burning taxpayer fuel" as a put down, it was a cheap shot, and out of line, IMHO.
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Old 14-10-2010, 16:20   #9
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If you meant "burning taxpayer fuel" as a put down, it was a cheap shot, and out of line, IMHO.
It was not meant as a "cheap shot" and perhaps they do serve a useful purpose in some localities, not here so far as I can see. Many years ago I took their safe boating course, more in hopes of an insurance discount than anything else because by then I had quite a bit of experience. What I saw being taught in that so called course really ticked me off because so much of what was being taught was either false or useless. Two examples, they taught that it was impossible to don a pfd in the water. Second, their section on ATN, aids to navigation consisted of a slide show showing photos of each and every day marker from the marina to the gulf. As a diver, I commonly enter the water with my gear over the side and putting on a BC is no more difficult than donning a pfd. Second, just how does showing slides of every dang daymarker help or teach anyone? "Now in the next slide you will see daymarker 30"

In the 15 years I have been on the same river, all I have ever seen are the boats all decked out cruising up and down. NEVER have I seen them stop to assist or do anything else useful. I am perfectly willing to admit that perhaps they are doing something. All I am saying is that I have never seen it and was curious as to their function/authority. It appears the answer is that their authority is almost nil and their function is to promoted safe boating. In some locales they are apparently effective and others not so much suggesting minimal oversight. I guess my question was answered.

Rich
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Old 14-10-2010, 17:26   #10
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Old 14-10-2010, 18:00   #11
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Exclamation If they have a Boarding Officer they can stop you.

So the answer to the original poster's comment:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cabo_sailor
...I don't believe they have the authority to stop anyone or issue citations.
From markpierce (below) it appears that the answer is 'it depends'. If they don't have a USCG boarding officer aboard then they can't stop you. It seems to imply if they do have a Boarding officer aboard, they can indeed stop you and issue citations. See page 4-6, paragraph A-11 and A-12.

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Old 14-10-2010, 18:13   #12
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FWIW I have wondered the same thing. I live on a waterway in NC and see, usually on a pretty w/e, the nice retired gentlemen in their spiffy uniforms heading out for a three hour tour. I have never seen them do anything other than drive around. If anyone ever needs assistance Tow/US is called. I find it all a little silly but if it makes them happy. I certainly would not allow them to interfer with any of my boating activities. I quess the inspections are useful to some. My question is, is the taxpayer footing their gas bill? I certainly hope not.
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Old 14-10-2010, 18:46   #13
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Australian Version

In australia we have the volunteer sea resue groups, which from the sounds of it operate similarly to the USCG AUX. They are non government volunteer organisation.

These guys are certainly usefull. These guys lend assistance wherever it is needed - emergency or not. I have been rescued once, and the service and committment from these guys was astounding. I see them every weekend, sometimes pottering around enjoying the day - but also out to sea in some of the shittiest weather imaginable.

And best of all THEY DO NOT GIVE TICKETS - They are always on call to lend a hand, but do not "police" the waterways at all.

Nothing but respect for our volunteer sea rescue organisations.
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Old 14-10-2010, 18:53   #14
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fwiw--i see more obvious flouting of colregs by the uscg aux here in sin diego .. also there are more false calls to uscg by one member of uscg aux in my mooring.
my saying is-- the more flags you fly, the less ye know. it works every time
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Old 14-10-2010, 18:56   #15
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Hi, I am new member to this forum and noticed this thread.

I grew up and worked in the waters of New England, but have been landlocked for the past 15 years in North Carolina. I worked on private sailboats and commercial ferry boats, had 100t masters license. I never really know much about the Auxiliary until moving to NC.

AFter discovering a whole population of boaters that really had no knowledge of boating or water, I wanted to find a way to help educate folks as to what boating and more importantly boating safely was all about. So, I discovered the Aux.

As has been mentioned here, the proper USCG has got it hands VERY full, especially after 9/11, taking care of Homeland Security tasks. They (active duty) rely heavily on the Aux to help with boater safety, training, and search/rescue. To me numbers speak louder than words so I hope this link will work. This shows calendar year 2010 unit activity for the Aux. This is public info, nothing secret, its just not very easy to find. Of particular importance are the columns to the right that total 'lives saved' and 'person assisted' and 'property value'. This sums up with the Operational side of the Aux has done for 2010. If the link has problems:

lives saved=186
persons assisted=4406
property value=34,000,000

The Aux is like any other org in that you get out of it what you want. Some folks are in it for the 'cool uniforms' others to help the general public and yet others are in it to help train the active duty. By the way, I was part of Civil Air Patrol and if you think paying for some fuel to run a safety patrol on the water seems high, you should see what the tax payer has to pay to put up and maintain a CAP flight.

For the original poster...we have no authority, strictly for safety purposes. We assist USCG when requested and provide a 'presence' when and where they can not.

https://www.auxinfo.uscg.gov/cognos/...asfK1P7awHkoB~
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