Grand Haven USCG members show training required to tow boats

Coast Guard always ready to help those in need

GRAND HAVEN, MICH. - They're the ones who come to the rescue when the worst case scenario happens out on the water -- the United States Coast Guard.

No matter what it is -- a disabled vessel, medical emergency, even running out of gas -- Coast Guardsman clock serious hours so they can be present and prepared when they are needed.

According to Operations Petty Officer BM1 Michael Sheahan, those emergencies rarely happen on a perfect day.

"Historically, people are going to break down, not on a calm day, but when the seas want to stand up on you or the wind is howling," he said.

Members of his station in Grand Haven recently went through training to help keep their skills sharp. He says that is the norm.

"You have to stay proficient, so when you are out there, it is coming natural to you and you know what you are doing," said Sheahan. "In between operations there is always some type of training going on.

"Part of our training is everybody knows the vessels inside and out. They know what they are capable of, the tow training -- I mean you are looking at almost every duty period these guys are running some type of drill."

He says each drill has a minimum crew of three. One person driving the boat and two others working the deck.

"It takes a lot for somebody to be out there working on the deck. The heavy weather stuff, you know being out in big seas long hours, at night. You have to worry about stability and falling over and things of that nature," he said.

Sheahan says, through training, they are trying to achieve what he calls "muscle memory" that kicks in when needed, without thinking about it.

"That repetitiveness and muscle memory is what we are looking for. It is what saves the day, so to speak."

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