USCG REC Seattle…..Service With a Smile!

Today was my big day to hand deliver all of my paperwork to the USCG Regional Exam Center (REC) in Downtown Seattle.  I do my very best to avoid Downtown Seattle as much as possible.  In fact it was probably 4 years ago since I was in the heart of the beast last.  So I found parking in a garage, figured out how to get up 3 or 4 levels to street level, walked down the street two blocks to the Federal Building.  Upon entering, I had to go through a security check, show I.D., remove belt, keys, phone, etc and walk through a metal detector.  Just as I was emptying my pockets into the little tray for scanning, the guy in front of me is having a hard time.  The security guys are repeating instructions to him multiple times.  He finally gets all of his stuff into the tray, including his wallet.  They then ask for his I.D. and he says it is in the tray (which is like 4 inches from him).  The guard says “I can see that, but if you want to enter, you must show I.D.”.  The guy asks if he has to show I.D. and finally a more senior guard pops out from behind a scanning machine and says “Show us your I.D. or leave immediately!”.  It looked like the guy might have been some sort of contractor or something coming to the building to do some work.  Not being able to enter the building would mean the job wouldn’t get done and his boss would probably be furious.  It was all I could take and burst out laughing at the guy for trying to “stick it to the man” with his little one man rebellion.  He finally got through and I was able to proceed.

I made into the Rec, signed my name on the list, took a seat for about 45 seconds while the mariner ahead of me completed him business and they called my name to come forward.  I handed all of my copies, application, physical, sea time letters, etc.  The nice lady behind the counter quizzed me about a few things I was applying for.  (I was advised to ask for more ratings, endorsements, tonnage, etc and let the USCG figure it all out).  She went over a few items and asked a few questions about what I was qualified for and had me remove a few of my requests.  She knew the rules inside and out and didn’t mess around.  She asked for me to take a seat while she entered everything into the system, which was very slow this day according to other workers behind the counter.  I sat down and started to thumb through a Coast Guard Magazine.  I only made it a dozen pages or so and I was called back up, paid the appropriate fees, was given a receipt and said have a nice weekend.  Bada Boom, Bada Bing!  Painless and very efficient.  I can’t believe it was a guvmint agency.

Heading home on the freeway, I decided that today would be a good time to go and inspect a boat that had gone aground in Steamboat slough of the Snohomish River.  The boat is visible to the West of old Hwy 99 out near the tide flats, but too far away to see any details, like if it floats, has any value, is aground or tied to a piling, etc.  So I stopped by Everett, hopped in the Vessel Assist boat and motored slowly upriver.  The tide was ebbing strongly and I knew it was very shallow getting to where I needed to go.  I also thought I could make it through on the short cut.  That didn’t work out as when I was crossing the depth meter read 1 foot. So I backtracked and went around the long way.  I was able to get fairly close to the boat, but it took about an hour longer to there than if I had been able to cross the short cut.  Turns out the boat looks like a derelict vessel that someone has abandoned.  We will turn in into the state’s derelict vessel program and let them handle it.  That means that in about 4 or 5 months, they will likely hire us to move it somewhere to be hauled out and demolished.  If they can find the owner, they will fully charge him for all of the costs, but usually these vessels are all stripped out before being discarded and it is very hard to trace any ownership.

It was a great day to be out in the boat, but with the extra time it took me to get out there, the tide had run out too far for me to cross the shallows to return to port.  I tied off to a old crab buoy in 5 feet of water and waited about 1.5 hours before I had enough water to make it back.
I returned to port, tied up and drove home.  I go into the office to check my emails and there is an email from the National Maritime Center in West Virgina, that my package has been received and is being reviewed!  Are you frickin kidding me?  I should go buy a lottery ticket tonight.  This is the guvmint, how the hell are they working so fast, especially for them this is the Friday before a three day weekend in honor of Presidents Day?  I’m guessing it will all blow up next week, but until then, I’m smiling.
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