Maple busy in Canada, Wrangell

WRANGELL, Alaska - The Coast Guard Cutter Maple crew loads totem poles onto the buoy deck in Wrangell to transport to Sitka Oct. 28, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Sundeen.

By Ensign Clare Delanoy, Maple public affairs officer

The Coast Guard Cutter Maple represented the United States at the 2011 Canadian Professional Development Week in Victoria, British Columbia. It was a busy two weeks away from homeport filled with aids to navigation, intense transits through the Canadian Inside Passage and training and sightseeing in the city of Victoria.

Mother Nature never allows for a dull moment when on the water at the beginning of the winter season in Southeast Alaska. Fortunately, we were very lucky on our transit south and were able to make the entire trip in the open ocean which eliminated an entire day underway. We stopped in Ketchikan, Alaska, to drop off old buoys and load new, freshly painted ones on the buoy deck. This overnight stop allowed the crew to visit some of their favorite spots in the small fishing town, as well as a Coast Guard Exchange, where crewmembers could finally purchase their new Coast Guard ball caps!

The quick transit to Victoria gave Maple crewmembers an entire weekend to explore Victoria before training began. Unfortunately it was a very short week of training for the Maple because we had a last minute stop to make on the way home and the weather was not as forgiving on the northerly transit. We were forced to stay on the Inside Passage making the journey much more challenging as the ship must go through narrow waterways, some of which are only a couple hundred yards wide at times. This definitely brings the bridge team closer since they must be extremely focused and work together to make the transit successful.

The Maple effortlessly traversed areas such as Seymour Narrows and Blackney Pass, outran a storm moving quickly up the coast from the south, and arrived in Wrangell, Alaska, for the last adventure of the trip. In Wrangell, Maple crewmembers had the unique opportunity to witness, and be a significant part of, a traditional Tlingit ceremony. The Maple was tasked with assisting in the movement of the totem pole that will be carved for the CG 6017 memorial. Before the precut cedar trees were moved, the native carver came aboard, shared the story of the cedar trees and totem pole and performed two ceremonial songs. Two forty-foot trees were loaded and secured on the buoy deck and the Maple was underway shortly after to continue the transit back to Sitka.

Once again, the Maple and crew adjusted quickly to last minute operational and weather changes and had a successful trip. The totem poles were offloaded the following week with much representation from Air Station Sitka as a part of the process. The crew is enjoying a much needed and deserved break and is able to spend it with their families, just in time for the fresh snow in Sitka. Before too long, we will be off to Juneau for more training and some holiday shopping!

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