Rain or torrential rain, the games must and did go on for the Coast Guard’s annual Buoy Tender Olympics on Wednesday, which took place during their annual Buoy Tender Roundup.
The annual event, held this year from Aug. 15 to 19 at Coast Guard Station Juneau, is designed to give participants an opportunity to receive specialized training, provide discussions to enhance operations, and hold a Buoy Tender Roundup Olympics to test their seamanship skills.
Cutters arrived on Sunday with an all-hands welcome gathering held on Monday, followed by various training throughout the comprehensive week such as, CPR courses, educational presentations, cutter forces group, maintenance for product lines and purchase SK training.
Lt. Kyle Philips is one of the Buoy Tender Olympics organizers. He works for the Coast Guard District 17 with District Prevention Waterways Management and oversees the cutter schedules as well as helps manage the buoy tenders. Phillips said in addition to providing professional training, the event especially serves as a great comradery boost for all of the crews.
“It’s just a great opportunity to bring all the buoy tenders together that are in remote locations throughout Alaska, get into a central area and have everyone here for good group discussions on various operations and things that we can improve throughout the district,” Phillips said. “Overall, it’s just good morale for everyone involved.”
Crews from the 17th District Coast Guard Cutters Kukui, Cypress, Fir, Anthony Petit, Elderberry, and from the 13th District Coast Guard Cutter Elm participated in five separate games, all designed to test and apply their practical skills: chain pull, line throw, boom spot, heat and beat, and tug of war.
Chain pull was the first game which consisted of each team pulling a chain with hooks from one end of the parking lot to the other to see which team could do it faster. It’s not all just fun and games, the buoy mooring chain is what anchors the buoy into place, so crew members can use all the practice they can get in moving the 1,700-pound chain.
“Really it’s just about teamwork because there’s no way you’re going to pull an inch and a half chain by yourself, so the big thing about it is everybody has to pull at the same time and then once you get to the portion where you’re faking it, it’s really just a lot of communication teamwork, just a lot of pulling back and pulling it straight,” said EM1 Jeremy Gager of Team Anthony Petit.
Seaman William Gusman added: “The more separated you are, the harder it is, so if you stay together as a group and pull, it’s easier to get the chain all the way back and start faking it out. “Find the end link and everyone else just help pull. That’s all it is, just teamwork.”
Granger along with Gusman were a part of the same team during last year’s Olympics and won the chain pull, a feat they were each confident they had won again this year despite no official announcements being made yet.
“We were here last year and won it and we won it again this year,” Gusman said. “We’re pretty sure, everyone else was over a minute and we were under a minute, I don’t know the exact time, but definitely under a minute.”
For each competition, teams competed for first, second, and third place in addition to participating in cooking contests throughout the week. At the end of the week, the top teams are compiled and then the winner is announced on Friday. The winning team receives the highest honors of bragging rights.
According to Phillips, last year there was a shortage of cutters due to COVID19, so this year it was especially important to bring cutters into Juneau and hold this event as a way of bringing everyone together.
“People are needing it, people need to engage in comradery, so we feel very fortunate to have this here,” Phillips said.
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.