This post is late, but just now have time to post it.
Before we left St Pete, the USCG put on a open house. We were hesitant about it at first, but it was fantastic! It is a must see for those that can make one.
They have everything tere from their cutters and utility ships, to the smaller patrol boats. You are welcome to walk all through them and all the crew and officers answer questions. Super, super friendly people.
We got to see a c130 (is that the right plane??) fly right over us and that thing was seriously loud.
THey also do a live rescue from a helo. For those that have never seen this, it is pretty incredible. I cannot imagine doing this in a real sea, and those things are loud too. It would be great training for everyone that is going to go on a long passage to see what they do and how they do it. It was an eye-opener for us. The rescue swimmer that jumps from there is one seriously brave fellow!!
They even show you their weaponry (not loaded) and have safety classes. IIRC, the USCG (just ST Pete) had over 1400 rescues on the water last year! 1400! I forget how many millions of dollars of drugs they intercepted, but that was staggering too.
Anyways, if anyone ever gets a chance to check it out, it is well worth it. Really makes me proud of the guys and gals that are out there watching out over us. A big thanks! Kids will never forget it.