There are over 1200 buoys and other navigational aids placed all along the U.S. coastline. Somebody’s got to repair them and make sure they all stay in position. That’s the responsibility of the Coast Guard’s buoy tenders; the black-hulled ships crewed by what could be described as the blue-collared members of the service.
Eight tenders from Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon converged on Juneau this week for the annual Buoy Tender Round-Up. It’s chance for as many as 300 crewmembers to train together, and compete against each other. The Buoy Tender Olympics is the highlight. Events are based on day-to-day routines: the Chain Pull and Rescue Line Heave, Survival Suit Relay Swim, Crane Boom Spotting, Tug o’ War, and the Heat & Beat.