The Charlevoix Flotilla, Glen Stolt FC, and Coast Guard Station Charlevoix sponsored the 2023 annual Boat School from June 9th through June 11th, 2023. The goal of Boat School is to get Crew and Coxswains with their PQS complete, qualified by a QE check ride. And those working toward these goals, advanced. It was a great success. About 40 total USCG Auxiliary members attended from Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, and throughout Michigan. Seven Flotillas in attendance were from District 91, Division 26, 16, 18, 20, 22 and 30.

The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) participated again this year with 4 members and their facility “Kracken”. CCGA has sent a team every year since 2017. Working with the CCGA has been a bonus to both Auxiliaries. They are well equipped and very experienced with SAR. So, the information and techniques shared are interesting and valuable. The CCGA is the search and rescue for Canada – they regularly search forests for missing persons, go to the lakes to rescue mariners, they have well equipped facilities with tools to do their missions efficiently. During the Boat School patrols and fellowship time many real situations and solutions are shared with USCG Aux members. The Charlevoix Boat School offers a concise program to get their new members “immediately useful” by having such a broad spectrum of training in one weekend. The CCGA is a welcome always at our event and we have started conversation about working with them in Sault St. Marie.

The weekend starts on Friday about noon with lunch, orientation and safety briefing then Qualified Examiner checked rides on Friday and Saturday for those who were ready. All have daily Surface Training surface scenarios that will exercise the skill qualifications for Coxswain, Crew, and Trainees. Navigation, night operations, towing, anchoring, SAR patterns, 2 boat scenarios, knots, heaving line, firefighting and more are all offered. One scenario involved Aux Air Search and Rescue (SAR) missions utilizing a Traverse City Flotilla aircraft. The exercise involved locating a lost kayak and a person in the water and then directing a surface units for their recovery. Auxiliarists also spent time at the station performing refresher classroom training in SAR, Navigation, and Communications. Completing all the scenarios will also complete your annual currency requirements. Sunday is a backup day if weather does not cooperate or a travel day for our out of town guests. If you participate in all Boat School offers, you can complete your on water CRW/CX training sign offs!

This year’s addition was to include AUXCOM. Their Mobile Command Communication Trailer handled the event comms and advanced Aux members seeking TCO qualifications! Dave Montgomery, operated the Traverse City Mobile Command Communications trailer and qualified two members in Auxiliary Communication and advancing trainees. The trailer assumed all communication watch standing for Coast Guard Station Charlevoix over a 48-hour period. This initiative provided both real-world training for Auxiliary members and much needed-relief for Active Duty watch standers at Coast Guard Station Charlevoix. The communication trailer was acquired two years ago by a group of flotilla members and fitted with various radios to handle all communications. The mobile facility has operated at the Coast Guard Traverse City Air Station for air and surface operations during SAR training and training exercises in Elk Rapids, Michigan.

Boat School utilized six surface facilities from four Flotillas, Traverse City, Charlevoix, Upper Great Lakes, and one boat from the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, Sault Saint Marie, Ontario, which has been actively involved for over five years. The facilities allowed for many additional towing evolutions, SAR training exercises, flotilla aviation support from the Traverse City Air Station, maritime training, and numerous crew overboard drills throughout the training weekend. In addition to all the extensive daytime training, Coxswains performed night operations to qualify crew and coxswain for their nighttime qualifications.

Auxiliary Culinary Assistants prepared over 200 meals in Station Charlevoix's galley. Lynda Stolt, Deb and Robert Kerr, and COMO Sue Thurlow cooked delicious foods and desserts for Coast Guard Active Duty, Reserve, Coast Guard Academy Cadets and Auxiliary members in attendance.

Charlevoix's 2023 boat school was another great success, with eight new Coxswains and Crewmembers and the requalification of seven previously qualified Crewmembers. Most Divisions and flotillas from District 91, Ninth Central, look forward to this annual program in Charlevoix, Michigan, pulled together throughout the year by Charlevoix Flotilla 26-02. The program’s training is always excellent; the fellowship and friendships created last a lifetime.

Planning has already begun for the 2024 Charlevoix Boat School. Again, seats will be limited to 50 and we will be looking for facilities that can trailer in. The primary mission of Charlevoix Boat School is to keep 091-26 OPS qualified but, all the extra seats are open to ALL AUX. Everyone should try attending; it is a fun and resourceful weekend.


Dick Lavanture Flotilla Commander 261 Traverse City, Michigan and Glen Stolt, Flotilla Commander 262 Charlevoix, Michigan

CHARLEVOIX, MICH - Active duty and Auxiliary crews prepare to leave U.S. Coast Guard Station Charlevoix for two boat training on Lake Michigan. Photo by Marcus Calo

U.S. Coast Guard Station Charlevoix.

Auxiliary members, Mike English, Dick Lavanture, Sue Carter practice towing.

Bottom Right Photo: Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary members with U.S. Coast Auxiliary member Marcus Calo.

Christian Sandvig, Flotilla 185, Seven Detroit, and a Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary member rescue Oscar during a search and rescue exercise. Auxiliary Photo by Chris Haley

Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary members training together. Left to Right: Mike Walz, Canadian Auxiliarist, and Marcus Calo, Flotila Twelve Detroit.

Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel, Krakus. USCG Auxiliary Photo by Chris Haley

Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel, Krakus. USCG AuxiliaryPhoto by Richard Borth.