June 06--OSTERVILLE -- Wednesday's rainy weather wasn't ideal for boating but was a good backdrop for the dedication of a used Coast Guard boat that has been handed over to the Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills Fire Department.
The department's fire chief, Michael Winn, kicked off the ceremony at the Wianno Yacht Club by saying he didn't know whether to start off with a joke about rain being good luck the day of a wedding or a joke about building Noah's Ark.
"We have quite a rainy day for a boat dedication," he said.
The 25-foot Coast Guard SAFE boat tied up in the background already went out on its first mission Tuesday when a mayday was issued a mile off Osterville, Winn said, adding that the emergency turned out to be a false alarm.
"The wind was howling and the boat proved its capabilities," he said.
There were many people and agencies who made it possible for the department to acquire the boat, including the Coast Guard and U.S. Rep. William Keating, COMM fire Capt. Paul Rhude said.
"Resident and visitors of the COMM fire district are safer," he said.
The boat also will play an important role in a new joint response and communications plan that is being developed for waters around the Cape and Islands, he said.
The boat, which was previously based in Provincetown, was transferred from the Coast Guard through a federal excess personal property program managed through the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
"Seven years ago when I took this position I never imagined I would be in the boat business," said David Celino, chief fire warden for the Department of Conservation and Recreation Bureau of Forest Fire Control.
Over that time, the state has facilitated the transfer of 20 boats from the federal government to communities across the state, including 10 SAFE boats identical to the one provided to the COMM fire department, Celino said.
The General Services Administration, which handles real estate, acquisition, and technology services for the federal government, including the distribution of excess federal assets, has done a great job, Keating said.
"This is more than just a boat," he said.
It allows COMM to extend its ability to respond to incidents on the water to year-round, Keating said.
While the Cape is grateful for the influx of visitors during the tourist season, it puts a strain on the ability of local communities to provide essential services, Keating said.
The dive training that will be possible on the new boat, as well as the ability to respond to potential threats to the region's natural resources, make it a tool for the important lifesaving efforts of the department, he said.
"There's so much more than just a boat we're celebrating here today," Keating said.
After Keating spoke, the crowd of about two dozen walked down to the dock.
"We ask the sailors of old and the mood of god that is the sea to accept our new boat and to help her through her passages and allow her to return her crew safely," Winn said.
At that point the department's former assistant clerk and treasurer Florence Hodkinson took charge of a bottle of champagne to christen the boat.
"I name this vessel COMM Boat 310 and may she bring fair winds and safe passage to all who sail on her," she said before swinging the bottle at a metal rail along the top of the boat.
After three more tries the bottle broke and the crowd cheered. "That's one tough boat," somebody said.
Hodkinson, her husband and General Services Administration Public Affairs Officer Patrick Sclafani then hopped onboard and COMM firefighter Dan Carpenter took them for a spin around West Bay.
Copyright 2014 - Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.