Many Chesapeake Bay boaters are aware that the Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free vessel safety checks. But did you know there are many other ways that auxiliarists serve the local boating community? From boating safety classes to standing watch in vessels around the Bay, up and down the Chesapeake the Coast Guard Auxiliary is a force multiplier.

coast guard auxiliary
Photo courtesy of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Facebook page

The Auxiliary is an all-volunteer civilian service organization that supports the Coast Guard in its non-military and non-law enforcement duties. Membership is open to individuals who have an interest in serving the boating community and are at least 17 years of age. 

Boating safety is one of the primary concerns of most Auxiliary flotillas. Members serve as watch standers, vessel inspectors, boating safety educators, and in many other positions, even chefs. In addition to volunteering in your community, auxiliarists have access to valuable training opportunities that qualify them for specific operations. Another important part of being in the Auxiliary is the comradery. Fellowship at meetings, training sessions, on patrol, at ceremonies, and at other events is a valuable part of the Auxiliary’s history and the membership’s culture.

The organization dates back approximately 80 years. It was created by an act of Congress in 1939. Today there are more than 21,000 members in 793 local units that volunteer approximately four million hours of operational and administrative support per year. Auxiliarists have their own Auxiliary uniform. The cost of membership is not prohibitive but can vary depending on one’s area of interest. Annual dues, uniform purchases, and additional gear and training costs may be incurred, but many of these expenses are tax deductible. Learn more about the US Coast Guard Auxiliary at