>MAPLE Returns Home to Sitka after Five Week Southern Patrol

>On September 16th, CGC MAPLE finally returned home to Sitka after a strenuous five week patrol to California, Oregon, and Washington. Due to the dire need for buoy tenders in the Gulf of Mexico to help clean up the oil spill, MAPLE was tasked with working buoys in the San Francisco Bay area and at the mouth of the Columbia River.

MAPLE’s first buoy was a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) buoy located 600 miles off the coast of San Francisco. The transit out to the buoy was one straight, completely uneventful line in glass calm seas. The crew felt as if they weren’t even in the Pacific Ocean, but she would prove herself worthy as the MAPLE took on 20 foot beam-to swells the entire ride back to San Francisco. Yes, you felt like you could touch the water from the bridge as she dipped side to side. Yes, you felt like you would fall out of your bunk every thirty seconds so decided it was easier to roll back and forth trying to sleep on the floor instead. And yes, all the milk that you had to clean up on the messdeck as the refrigerator emptied her contents onto the deck at midnight was real, not a dream. Needless to say, no MAPLE crewmembers would be seen around town that first day in San Francisco because they were all sound asleep in their racks. The crew did enjoy their time off in the city and made the most of their liberty enjoying the sites.

MAPLE worked buoys around San Francisco then headed north to Astoria, Oregon to swap out buoys at the mouth of the Columbia River. The MAPLE crew quickly learned that all the talk about the strong currents created from the Columbia River dumping freshwater into the Pacific Ocean were completely true. As the buoys were lowered back into the water, the water rushed passed as if the buoys were being lowered into rapids. All of the buoys were safely and successfully worked, but some were more stringent than others.

One more buoy was worked off the coast of Washington as MAPLE finally made the transit north back to Sitka. What a welcome home it was with the sun shining brightly and blue skies all around. It stayed that way for the next week so the crew could fully enjoy their much needed time off.

The last month has been a long maintenance and repair period throughout the entire ship. Now MAPLE is preparing to leave Sitka to attend the Canadian Coast Guard’s Buoy Tender Round Up in Victoria, British Columbia at the end of October. There is a very full schedule for the week so it should be a great experience for the crew.