Welcome to the USCGC SOUTHWIND WAGB 280 website. The purpose of this site is to
provide a means where all us who served aboard that great ship can stay informed of up
coming events and hopefully to contact shipmates from long ago.
A fitting welcome to our Southwind website is the passage duplicated below. It will remind
us of "The Coast Guard We Once Knew". We might all stand little taller after reading this
|The Coast Guard We Once Knew
I liked standing on the bridge wing at sunrise with salt spray in my face and clean ocean
winds whipping in from the four quarters of the globe---the cutter beneath me feeling like
a living thing as her engines drove her swiftly through the sea.
I liked the sounds of the Coast Guard---the piercing trill of the boatswains pipe, the
syncopated clangor of the ship's bell on the quarterdeck, the harsh squawk of the PA
system, and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.
I liked CG vessels---darting 255s, plodding buoy tenders and light ships, sleek 327s,
311s and the steady solid hum of an HU16E.
I liked the proud names of Coast Guard ships: USS Bayfield, USS Cavalier, USCGC
Taney, USCGC Absecon, the Wind Class Icebreakers and the USCGC Bibb and
McCullough to name a few.
I liked the lean angular names of Coast Guard "shallow water" cutters. The 82-footers
such as Point Divide, Point Lookout, and the 95-footers such as Cape Trinity and Cape
Higgon, named for locations around the states.
I liked liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port.
I even liked the never ending paperwork and all hands working parties as my ship filled
herself with the multitude of supplies, both mundane and to cut ties to the land and carry
out her mission anywhere on the globe where there was water to float her.
I liked sailors, officers and enlisted men from all parts of the land, farms of the Midwest,
small towns of New England, from the cities, the mountains and the praires, from all walks
of life. I trusted and depended on them as they trusted and depended on me for
professional competence, for comradeship, for strength and courage. In a word, they
were shipmates, then and forever.
I liked the surge of adventure in my heart, when the word was passed: "Now set the
special sea and anchor detail---all hands to mooring stations for leaving port," and I liked
the infectious thrill of sighting home again, with the waving hands of welcome from family
and friends waiting pier side.
The work was hard and dangerous; the going rough at times; the parting from loved ones
painful, but the companionship of robust CG laughter, the "all for one and one for all"
philosophy of the sea was ever present.
I liked the serenity of the sea after a day of hard ship's work, as flying fish flitted across
the wave tops and sunset gave way to night.
I liked the feel of the CG Cutter in darkness---the masthead and range lights, the red and
green navigation lights and stern light, the pulsating phosphorescence of radar
repeaters---they cut through the dusk and joined with the mirror of stars overhead. And I
liked drifting off to sleep lulled by the myriad noises large and small that told me that my
ship was alive and well, and that my shipmates on watch would keep me safe.
I liked quiet mid-watches with the aroma of strong coffee and bologna sandwichs---the
lifeblood of the CG permeating everywhere.
And I liked hectic watches when the exacting minuet of haze-gray shapes racing at flank
speed kept all hands on a razor edge of alertness.
I liked the sudden electricity of "general quarters, general quarters, all hands man your
battle stations," followed by the hurried clamor of running feet on ladders and the
resounding thump of watertight doors as the ship transformed herself in a few brief
seconds from a peaceful workplace to a weapon of war---ready for anything.
And I liked the sight of space-age equipment manned by youngsters clad in dungarees
and sound-powered phones that their grandfathers would still recognize.
I liked the traditions of the CG and the men and women who served so valiantly. This few
gave so much in service to their country. A sailor could find much in the CG:
comrades-in-arms, pride in self and country, mastery of the seaman's trade. An
adolescent could find adulthood.
In years to come, when sailors are home from the sea, they will still remember with
fondness and respect the ocean in all its moods---the impossible shimmering calm and
the storm-tossed green water surging over the bow. And then there will come again a
faint whiff of stack gas, a faint echo of engine and rudder orders, a vision of the bright
bunting of signal flags snapping at the yardarm, a refrain of hearty laughter in the
wardroom and chief's quarters and mess decks.
Gone ashore for good they will grow wistful about their CG days, when the seas belonged
to them and a new port of call was ever over the horizon.
Remembering this, they will stand taller and say, "I WAS A COASTIE ONCE."