You have to wonder about people who are willing to get aboard a boat that can roll over any direction and right itself.
Those people are only attached to the vessel by a belt clipped to a post! Those people are members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Last week I tagged along with Forks Mayor Tim Fletcher and County Commissioner Bill Peach as they traveled down to La Push to welcome Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Micheal K. Carola, who recently was sworn in as new command at U.S. Coast Guard Station Quillayute River.
The previous command was held by Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Cory L. Wadley. Wadley had served in that position since July 2015. The change of command ceremony took place Friday, May 18, at the Coast Guard station in La Push.
Carola has been at Quillayute River before, from 2008-2011. Originally from Maryland, Carola entered the USCG just two weeks out of high school and said the last 20 years have just flown by. He was previously stationed in North Carolina and at several stations on the Oregon coast coming to Quillayute River from Station Umpqua River located in Winchester Bay, Ore., where he served as Executive Petty Officer.
“The boating community and safety is the heart of the Coast Guard,” Carola said. Last Thursday, boats were pouring into La Push and Carola said the station was preparing for a busy Memorial Day weekend and halibut fishing.
Carola urged the boating community to use the Coast Guard station as a resource to check bar conditions.
“We are often forced to make a ruling on the bar, but we have lots of tools,” Carola said. “Balancing restrictions can be tough, but I make the final call.”
In addition to calling the station at 360-374-6469, Carola advised boaters to use the NOAA webpage (www.noaa.gov), being careful to check the date and boaters can also tune 1610 AM on the radio for bar information.
The station at Quillayute River has 40 members who work two days on, two days off. They stay at the station while on duty.
The station no longer offers family housing and housing has been an issue for some time now. Most live in Port Angeles with a few living in Forks. A bus system has been implemented for crew members traveling from Port Angeles.
While at the station, Fletcher and Peach toured the galley, barracks, gear room, training room and gym. Carola said that because of the isolation factor, Neah Bay and Quillayute offer gymnasiums.
Carola also extended an invitation to community groups in need of a meeting place.
“Our training room has projectors, televisions, everything needed for a presentation — our door is always open,” he said.
Carola said he would like to see crew members volunteer more in the community, but it is hard with the work schedule.
“It is part of the crews job to represent,” Carola said.
“Our goal is still to save a life, the values of the new crew members still match previous generations,” he said.
After touring the station Carola, Fletcher and Peach toured the U.S. Coast Guard vessel; I, however, stayed on the dock.
Christi Baron, Editor