Coastal Currents: Superhero Edition (AUDIO)

Mike Dronkers / Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 @ 9:42 a.m. / Feel Good , Interview

If the Coast Guard had a 'Top Gun' academy, today's guest would be Maverick.

Victoria Taylor has always wanted to be a 'Surfman,' an elite certification earned driving rescue boats through heavy breaking waves.

After seven years of training, she is the only Surfman at the Humboldt Bay Station. 

So when you watch the Coasties driving those boats through waves that would give even the shrewdest surfer pause, it could be Petty Officer 2nd Class Victoria Taylor at the wheel.

Fact sheet:

  • The crew is strapped to the boat
  • The rescue boats can capsize, and take up to 12 seconds to self-right
  • Taking a wave wrong can cost you your teeth
  • She didn't move bricks along the pool bottom for Coast Gaurd Boot Camp
  • Taylor self identifies as a 'bad surfer' and rarely swims
  • Those boats don't have hatches to batten down, so adjust your slang accordingly

CoastGaurdBMIITaylor

USCG Sector Humboldt Bay press release:

Petty Officer 2nd Class Victoria Taylor, a boatswains mate from Station Humboldt Bay, was designated a Coast Guard Surfman today – the highest qualification a coxswain can achieve in the Coast Guard.  This makes her the Coast Guard’s 484th Surfman. She is only the sixth female Surfman in Coast Guard history to receive the designation and the very first from Station Humboldt Bay.  Additionally, she is currently the only watch-standing active duty female Surfman in the Coast Guard. 

Being designated a Surfman puts one in a very elite group –  only 5% of Coast Guard coxswains, or small-boat drivers, receive the qualification, which typically takes years to earn.  It took BM2 Taylor seven years to earn this prestigious qualification. 

There are 20 designated “surf” stations in the Coast Guard, located in areas that regularly experience significant surf conditions (waves that pass over shallow areas and break).  Station Humboldt Bay, located on the south end of Samoa, is one of them.  While regular lifeboat coxswains are qualified to navigate their vessels into heavy seas, only Surfmen are allowed to navigate into breaking waves.

Above: A Station Humboldt Bay 47’ Motor Lifeboat driving through breaking surf.

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