How To Become A 40' Coxswain In Three Easy Lessons

By Jack Fletcher

After my stint at CG Station, Sandusky Ohio - then on to the Engineman School at Groton, I was assigned to CG Station, New London, Connecticut in 1966.

When I arrived at the New London Station, the XO, CHBOSN Chuck Bunkley asked me what I had done on Lake Erie, i.e., what qualifications did I have? Being the BS'R I did not want to be stranded on an ocean station or on a lighthouse.

I saw the hand writing on the wall and said, "I was a duty coxswain at Sandusky on their steel 30 footer."

He says, "OK, then your chit sheet should be in your jacket where some Boatswains Mate qualified you ???" I gulped "yes it should be there!" 

Next day he says, "Jack, I looked but couldn't find anything."

I respond by "that dumb deck ape must have forgotten it." This was on Friday, Mr. Bunkley leaves for 5 days leave and I have to either poop or get off the pot.

I get some dumb seaman and said, "give a hand I got to give the plastic 30 a test."

We get under way in the Thames River - for five straight days I practice and practice boat handling (I already knew enough about SAR.) When Mr. Bunkley got back and said, "OK Fletcher, lets take the 30 footer for a run and see what you know."

I'm a fairly good truck/heavyequipment/motorcycle/and whatever else kind of guy and I had taught myself how to run that 30 pretty good.

We got underway and I tied up at the Thames river Lighthouse. We then ran over to Fishers Island Station and back. Mr. Bunkley says "pretty good - we'll give you a try."

From that day forward I ran the 30' SAR boat. Within four weeks I trained myself to run the two-40' footers, 516 and 448. I conducted SAR for 18 months.

CG46302, a new bouy boat is assigned to the station and they need an engineman.  I get the jobm no problem. After four months of working buoys the BM1 goes AWOL and does not come back. Mr. Bunkley asks me if I can run the 302 and I say, "hell yes, no problem"  I finished out my five years as OinC of the 302 and never took a lesson from anyone. In my own defense I was a real good boat handler and really enjoyed the ride.

PS watch for my next story, "How a boat I'm towing passes me by"

Jack Fletcher EN2 - 1964 - 1969
Sandusky Ohio & Englewood Florida


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