On January 28, more than 40 people gathered for a program on “Navigating Local Waters.” This was a presentation by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGA) and the first of three demonstrations, including classes on youth safety and the Boat America course. Upcoming classes can be found on the Flotilla’s website, www.newberncgaux.org, by clicking on the Boating courses menu. To find Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Courses nearby, type in your zip code, then select the distance in miles. The website shows a list of classes along with the dates, locations, and contact information.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer service organization of the Coast Guard, open to both men and women who are citizens of the United States, its territories and possessions, and who are age seventeen or older. The Auxiliary exists to support all USCG missions on the water or in the air, except for roles that require "direct" law enforcement or military engagement. Currently, there are approximately 20,000 members. The Recreational Boating Safety Outreach is of primary importance and provides support and education.
Left to right: The USCGA near Fairfield Harbour. Sharon and Louie Nash attended the USCG seminar in Fairfield Harbour. A valuable vessel out on the water near Fairfield Harbour. More than 40 people registered for the USCGA presentation.
The Auxiliary collectively contributes over 4.5 million hours of service annually and completed nearly 500,000 missions to support the Coast Guard. Every year members help to save approximately 500 lives, assist 15,000 distressed boaters, conduct over 150,000 safety examinations of recreational vessels, and provide boater safety instruction to over 500,000 students. The Coast Guard Auxiliary saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
Karl Mielenhausen has been a member since he moved to Fairfield Harbour from Rochester, NY, where he was a Quality Assurance Manager with Eastman Kodak. He and his wife Elaine moved here for a warmer climate and a more extended boating season. He has owned sailboats for over 20 years and gets his "powerboat fix" through the Auxiliary, specifically by being a coxswain for the Flotilla's patrol boat. People ask how much time is involved in being a member. Karl explained that, like any volunteer organization, that depends on your level of involvement. New members will spend 20 hours with their initial internet-based (core) training. Member Training includes all training provided by the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary for Auxiliary members. After that, you will decide which program area(s) you wish to focus on, and that additional training can be 5-100 hours over a few months. Officers will spend more time, including their administrative responsibilities.
Karl described that some of his most rewarding adventures had been directly assisting the active duty Coast Guard during the on-the-water training events. Living in Fairfield Harbour, he feels the community has benefited the most from Public Education and Vessel Safety Check initiatives. The Local Waters seminar is exceptionally well received.
The USCGA is not just for men. TJ Bendicksen is one of six women in the local Flotilla. She was recruited to join a few months after she and her husband Jon moved here in 2014 from Carrboro, NC to work with the Water ‘N Kids safety public education program and classes. These interactive and fun classes are designed to empower youth to be safe in, on, or around water. Elementary schools, Cub Scouts, and Boys and Girls Clubs offer classes. She also configures and maintains the flotilla website, which provides recreational boating safety, tragedy prevention, and life-saving information. TJ is a mom who understands firsthand the value and importance of teaching your children well regarding safety.
In addition to being a banker and entrepreneur in her professional life, TJ has a long history of volunteerism. It has spanned most of her life, including educating school children about science, volunteering in Africa with a women’s empowerment microcredit NGO group, hosting several foreign exchange students, and working with a charitable organization in Pittsburgh. Out of this extensive list, she has found that her work with the USCGA has been her most unique way to serve the community and give back.
At the recent program, many people expressed an interest in joining this exceptional organization, serving their community, and increasing their boating knowledge. Any of the local members can provide personal experiences and information. The New Bern Flotilla has 30 members. Members from Fairfield Harbour include TJ Bendicksen, Bill Cunniff, and Karl Mielenhausen. The Flotilla meets monthly.
Prospective members can go to https://join.cgaux.org/join.php for more information. Joining this organization allows members to help educate, help save lives and learn new skills along the way with the Coast Guard. Semper Paratus!
Karl Mielenhausen will present the next Fairfield Harbour Yacht Club program on “Safety Tips for Experienced Mariners." This valuable program is open to anyone in Fairfield Harbour. The FHYC meeting will be held on March 9, 2023, at 7 pm at the Community Center.