Volunteering Series: The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary 59
Previously published in the Pineapple Post
By Helena Kyle
From Hobe Sound to Fort Pierce, unsung heroes and heroines in uniform, volunteers for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary 59, assist boaters, offer boater safety education, and perform free vessel safety inspection. Volunteer, Henry Cushard, Public Affairs Support Specialist for Flotilla 59, expressed his reason for volunteering as “giving back to those who serve us.” Volunteering for the U.S. Coast Guard is a fantastic opportunity for eighteen year-olds and beyond, to learn new skills, or hone their skills, by supporting boater safety along the Treasure Coast.
Flotilla 59 was chartered in 1942; members assisted the U.S. Coast Guard, during WWII, by keeping watch over the waterways, for enemy vessels. Originally, Flotilla 59 was based out of a converted fish house at the foot of Flagler Avenue, near the Roosevelt Bridge, donated by the City of Stuart. In 1982, the Martin County Commission approved a thirty-year lease on a parcel of county property at the north end of Sandsprit Park for the purpose of building a facility for USCG Flotilla 59. It is an inviting, updated facility, housing classrooms, a large meeting room, and a much appreciated galley.
With the exception of law enforcement, volunteers conduct a myriad of Coast Guard tasks, such as radio operation, rescue, and boater assistance. The primary mission is to promote boating safety through public education, and for good reason. According to the U.S. Coast Guard 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics, there were 701 boating fatalities nationwide; the highest number of annual boating fatalities on record in the previous 5 years. Alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents and was listed as the leading factor in 15% of deaths. Boating safety classes are offered at the Sandsprit Park facility on the 3rd Saturday of every month, except December. The class is needed to obtain a Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card. Florida Law requires boaters born on or after January 1, 1988 to have a Boating Education ID Card, if they operate a vessel powered by motor of 10 horsepower or more.
The U.S. Coast Guard, and the Auxiliary volunteers not only keep our waters safe, they save lives, which is why I consider them unsung heroes and heroines. A high percentage of volunteers have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, but military service is not a requirement to volunteer. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of a career in the U.S. Coast Guard, or in promoting boating safety, conducting vessel inspections and forming friendships with a dedicated crew of fellow volunteers, you have the opportunity to do so with the U.S. Flotilla 59.
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