I did something great today — I relaxed. Okay, that’s not really all I did. I relaxed in a very special place. Along with my family, I spent time aboard the USCGC George Cobb (WLM 564), a Coast Guard Buoy Tender, which usually calls San Pedro, California its home. Fortunately for us, it came up to the San Francisco Bay Area for Fleet Week. As members of the Navy League, we got invited to spend the day aboard the Cobb so that we could watch the Blue Angels show.
From start to finish, the experience was delightful. The Coast Guard made sure parking and check-in were easy, with delicious pre-packed lunches available for purchase too. Once on board the Cobb, we were invited to explore the whole ship, barring sleeping quarters and the engineering room. Inside or outside, we went everywhere and looked at everything. The crew was consistently friendly and helpful, and it was a pleasure to see this immaculate ship.
My family and I ended up spending a lot of time in the bridge. Not only was it comfortable (no cold wind blowing there), with good visuals (a 180 view of the surrouding bay), but it was also fascinating. The bridge’s crew showed us all the equipment and let us hang out in their chairs to boot. Although I got a little queasy and ended up back on the deck, my son refused to leave, and the crew cheerfully assured me that they would keep an eye on him — and they did.
Watching the Blue Angels from the Bay is an amazing experience. We were “parked” (I forget the official sea term) near Alcatraz, and it’s pretty clear that the Angels use Alcatraz as one of their markers. They therefore flew so near us that you could practically see the pilot’s faces. As always, it was a spectacular and completely enjoyable air show. It’s so obvious that the pilots love what they do. There is a joie de vivre to the performance that just sweeps one along. As for the precision, if I didn’t know there were real people in the cock pits, I swear I’d think they were computer programmed — it’s that good.
At the end of the day, I asked my son to rate the experience on a 1 through 10 scale (with ten being the best). He gave the day an 8 3/4, since it would have been perfect only if there had been guns and the guns had been fired! I’m not sure about the gun bit but otherwise I have to agree with my son, since the day was about as good as it can get.
UPDATE: There’s one other thing I wanted to add, and although it’s a silly thing, it seems important. After we returned frpm the ship, we pulled into our local market to get some supplies. As I know I’ve mentioned before, I live in a very nice community. Nevertheless, the young people, who are only a few years younger than many of the Cobb’s crew, hew to the latest fashions. We were therefore met with the sight of several shaggy haired kids in collapsing baggy pants, or overly tight peg legs, with the young men sporting rather random facial hair. That reminded me of something else I liked about the ship: the crew looked so . . . clean. The buzz cuts on the men, the neat pony tails on the women, the simple blue uniform: it all added up to a fresh, polished look that I greatly admired.