>Surviving: First Haunted Ship, Then the Wilderness


As the days grew shorter and the leaves turned from green to yellow, the crew of the MAPLE got caught up in the festivities of the creepiest day of the year: October 31st.

In the days leading up to Halloween, the crew worked tirelessly to prepare for the much-loved Haunted Ship event to be held on Friday, October 30. The evening is a favorite for Sitka residents, placing the pressure on the MAPLE crew to deliver a truly frightening experience. Many crewmembers used their personal creativity and constructed their own props for the affair. BM1 Joe Luce, HS1 Deb West, and BM3 Kelly Hogan constructed a life-size electric chair out of plywood and chain scrap, and BMC Richard Wilson, SN Brian Evinger and SN Travis Blackmon stayed long after normal work hours to construct several giant cages to house the “monsters” of the buoy deck. When everything came together, MAPLE transformed from a standard Coast Guard buoy tender to a hauntingly real ghost ship with surprises at every turn…

Despite the crew’s enthusiasm, the Sitka weather proved difficult the night of the event. The freezing rain froze hundreds of eager attendees waiting in line, and the gusting wind tore down the graveyard scene on the fantail within 45 minutes of opening the doors. The crew quickly changed the route, unbeknownst to the guests, and delivered a truly memorable evening. From the real pig’s head to roaring chain saws and fog machines, MAPLE lived up to the expectations of the town and sent girls running from the ship and children crying for their parents. All the horror, however, was for a good cause. The event brought in over $1300 for charity and hundreds of pounds of non-perishable canned goods were donated to the Salvation Army just in time for the holidays.

After the exhausting five-hour event, everyone went home for a much needed weekend off. However, eight MAPLE crewmembers were unable to truly enjoy the break, because they were off to Survival School early Monday morning. LTJG Chris Bonner, ENS Mary Bitzer, BM1 Aaron Jenkins, BM2 Mike Jenkins, DC3 Danny McDermott, IT3 Michael Frick, SN Tyler Bunker, and SA Aaron Johnson packed up their packs with limited supplies and set off for the wilderness.

Broken up into groups of four, they had to survive on a plot of land for three days and two nights. They constructed shelters from tree branches and plastic tarps and ate raw “delicacies” off the beach at low tide. With rugged instructors Dug and Jim, they learned how to survive in cold weather and live off the land with limited supplies. The exercise proved difficult, as LTJG Bonner lost nine pounds in two days, but with positive attitudes and lots of spirit fingers, everyone made it through successfully.