Last Day

[from the stabenow.com vaults, first posted February 19, 2004]

Today I took my leave of the USCGC Alex Haley and her crew. Ops on the sat phone

I know that for the past two weeks I’ve been writing what amounts to a recruiting poster. All I can tell you is that I wrote what I saw.

Was I able to write about everything I saw? Of course I wasn’t. The Coast Guard’s first responsibility is homeland defense. Operational security required that I ignore some things, downplay others, and to speak in only the most general terms of our geographic location. But what I wrote is what happened.

Did everything go right? Of course not. A coupling between one of the shafts and one of the engines went out, reducing our top speed by about 5 knots. The EO and his gang were up all of one night and two days figuring out what to do about it. We had to scrap boardings due to weather. There was the usual friction between shore and sea, between officer and enlisted man, between aviators and sailors, between bureaucracy and human being.

But if I were 18 again, this is where I’d want to be. I’d get to work with a bunch of smart, capable people, I’d get to play with large, powerful toys, I’d literally get to see the world from Alaska to Antarctica and all points in between, and, best of all, I’d be helping people and saving lives. (Joining up might not even interfere with my writing. Look at the name on this ship.)

One morning I heard a young lee helmsman, standing watch at the throttles which control the Alex Haley’s 6800 horsepower, say, “This is so cool.”

You’re right, kid. It is.

My thanks to the men and women of the Alex Haley for making me so welcome, for tolerating my colossal ignorance, and for being so willing to answer my million questions. You keep telling me it’s just a job, and that you’re not heroes.

You’re wrong.


Click here to order a copy.

10 thoughts on “Last Day

  1. Chris Nolan says:

    Ms. Stabenow, I was just sitting on a boring midnight watch in our Coast Guard command center in Honolulu and came across your recent trip with Captain Lloyd on the Munro. Great reading for me, and it seems like another great CG experience for you. I loved Blindfold Game, and had a good laugh picking out the different traits in your characters. After the patrol you came on the Alex Haley, I ended up commanding a patrol boat called Dorado in California for two years, and am now a Search and Rescue controller in Honolulu. Looking forward to your next book!
    Thanks again,
    LT Chris Nolan (Alex Haley 2004)

    Like

  2. How great to hear from you, Chris! I remember you were headed for a 110 out of Eureka, I hope it was a blast (the captain certainly seemed envious). Hawaii, huh. Tough duty. Glad you enjoyed Blindfold Game. Next one is Prepared for Rage, out in February. Yes, the Munro patrol was another incredible experience, and you might even recognize another character. Or several.

    Like

  3. Sam Thomas says:

    I picked up Blindfold game in a barns & Noble and just loved it until it came to an abrupt end that didn’t seem to fit. This hardcover copy ended four pages into chapter 22 on page 228. An internet search seems to suggest the book has more like 272 pages. My copy ended just as hugh and crew are coming on to the Star of Bali. Could this be correct? I loved it up till that point and will look for more
    sam

    Like

    • Man, Sam, I don’t even know what’s going on here. I’d take the book back to Barnes & Noble and demand another copy or a refund, pronto. I’m glad you enjoyed it up to the point where the rest of the book disappeared. I’m so sorry.

      Like

  4. Jesse Thrift says:

    I just wanted to say thanks.

    Why? I’m a wannabe Coastie in the worst way. Failed to get into the Academy, now I’m planning on trying OCS.

    I’m fascinated by the Coast Guard, so one day I started looking for books on it. The ONLY fiction book I could find featuring the Coast Guard in a major way in the modern day was Blindfold Game (okay, so I found Prepared for Rage, too, but my library didn’t have it).

    And I loved it, mostly because of the Coast Guard, yes, but who knows? Maybe I’ll get back into thrillers and mysteries.

    Of course, now I want to be a Coastie even more, and since my college isn’t eligible for CSPI I have to wait another three years, but what the hell.

    So yes, a very effective recruiting poster of a book, and blog.

    Like

  5. Bob Schwalbaum says:

    As an ex-Coastie I figured I’d enjoy an author who melds CG lore into her novels.
    I was very sadly disappointed
    Am I the only coastie who found her prose replete with nautical errors?
    They are too numeous to mention but.. you don’t refer several times to a CG cutter such the “Sojurner Truth” as a “boat”. and what kind of a name is that for a CG cutter?? PC gone mad. I can see “Alex Haley” as he was an ex-coastie. She even credits a CG officer as an advisor.. bad advice.
    And are “choppers” now really called “helos”?
    The main character… a female XO LCDR has the hots for an enlisted man.. WOW!
    and do you really have to tell a helmsman to “maintain course and speed”??
    And do you really ask a distressed fishing boat for it’s “long and lat”?
    Nuff said

    Like

  6. Elaine Newsom says:

    Just finished Bad Blood 2013–shocker ending with no missing pages!
    When is next book out? I will wait impatiently. Belong to USCG family/daughter is ex-Coastie/25 years/joined at 17. READ ALL YOUR BOOKS/ALASKA IS ON BUCKET LIST.

    Like

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