Jeff’s Story

Our grandson, Jeff Thomas, who did a couple of hitches in the Coast Guard posted a story on Facebook this Veteran’s Day. This was such a neat story, I asked him if it would be alright to post it on this blog. He agreed, so here it is!

Happy Veteran’s Day! This year I decided I would share a sea story from Coast Guard Station Golden Gate. This picture was taken from the north tower of the bridge and was submitted to the local paper. I was at the helm and we were picking up a kayaker in distress. This was one of the craziest days on the water I experienced during my entire tour there. It was Super Bowl Sunday, but also a historic day for a different reason. Queen Mary II was passing under the Golden Gate Bridge and it was the largest ship ever to come into San Francisco. You would think with a Super Bowl on, there wouldn’t be such a turnout. We were completely wrong, it was insane. If you’re really bored you can YouTube it and see how many freaks didn’t watch football that Super Bowl Sunday. The QM2 had to sail in during the ebb tide because the clearance was so tight under the bridge. The bay was the busiest I had ever seen it, I would argue more traffic than fleet week. This kayaker was caught in a 6 knot ebb current in Sausalito then flipped. With the strong ebb, the afternoon wind, and the wake from all the traffic it was like a messy river rapid and she couldn’t flip back over. She was swept passed the bridge to the west and we were heading full speed from Chrissy Field against the flow of traffic because a Ro-Ro (cargo ship for cars) was outbound in the lanes and heading right for her. If you aren’t aware, a ship that size cannot make any significant change of course, especially given the circumstances that day. We had to get on Channel 16 to let the captain know we were going to be within 100 yards of his bow while he was making about 15 knots directly at us. We got on scene and instantly swooped her out, then immediately had to get out of the way. Lucky for her ya boy Jeffrey is a straight gangster boat operator and got her first pass. It was so close that we kept her in the recess deck to wait until the large wake passed by before she was helped up. Aside from shivering and embarrassment, she was fine. We never saw a minute of the Super Bowl that day, tough duty for a Coastie haha

Credit: Jeff Thomas for the story

Dave Thomas

11/12/2020

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