The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Pike sailed from Petersburg to Wrangell for a community engagement mission. This was the vessel’s second year delivering for BRAVE Wrangell on Jan. 29, 2024. (Colette Czarnecki/KSTK)

The U.S. Coast Guard sailed over from Petersburg to Wrangell on Jan. 29 to deliver boxes of donated goods to BRAVE Wrangell – a nonprofit group that helps prevent violence and promote family resilience.

On a cold and rainy Thursday afternoon, close to 10 volunteers waited around at the Reliance Float Dock. 

Joan Sargent helps lead BRAVE, which stands for Building Respect and Valuing Everyone. The nonprofit gives resources out to people who are in need.

Sargent said that the donated wearables and household items are a collaborative effort with Petersburg’s Project Connect. Project Connect provides resources for people who experience housing insecurity. 

“There’s no requirement to pay,” she said. “Forty-six boxes are coming in and they’re fish boxes. So we’re protected as far as everything getting wet.”

We stood near a large crane, which was used to help lift the boxes from the lower seaplane float dock to the upper dock.

The U.S. Coast Guard delivered donated goods to BRAVE Wrangell on Jan. 23, 2024. The crane lifts the boxes to the upper deck, where volunteers take them to the BRAVE Annual Recycle Event that held that weekend. (Colette Czarnecki/KSTK)

“See that crane right here? They’re gonna drop that bucket over,” Sargent said. “Then the guys will put it in the bucket and it’ll come up over and we’ll load it on the trailer and in the back of the truck and I’ll back that out and then the next truck will come in.”

Sargent said that what doesn’t go out to people during the BRAVE Annual Recycle Event will be used for future events this year.

“We’re able to generate a little bit of money for nonprofits and then help the community,” she said.

The Pike arrives

After about a half hour of waiting, we saw the Coast Guard Cutter Pike approach from a distance.

“I know it’s really slick, it’s like ice,” Sargent said.

It took about 20 minutes for the Coast Guard to secure the cutter to the dock.

The 12-person crew began to unload the goods. They worked in what resembles a factory line to bring the boxes to the metal bucket attached to the dock’s crane lift. 

Chief Officer Kevin Chapman said this was the fourth annual delivery for BRAVE that the Coast Guard has done so far. Last year the Pike brought over 66 boxes.

“The Anacapa did before us,” he said. “This is our second year because we just came to Southeast Alaska in 2022.”

He said the crew packed out the boxes the night before they left and then loaded them onto the cutter in the morning. They sailed through the Wrangell Narrows and arrived in Wrangell a few hours after departure. 

“We really enjoy doing this community outreach for the local communities out here,” Chapman said. “We look forward to it in the future.”

Master Chief Kay Jones, the cutter’s Officer in Charge said the 87-foot class patrol boat is named after a predator. 

“There’s only two of these like this cutter in Alaska,” she said. “The other one is stationed in Juneau and it’s called the Reef Shark.”

Jones has served in the Coast Guard for 24 years and will retire next year. This is her last tour.

Coast Guard missions

She said the Coast Guard has 11 different mission sets, but the unit’s primary missions are maritime law enforcement and search and rescue. In addition, their primary non-published mission is community engagement.

“Community engagement is one of the most important things, especially when we’re in these small communities in Alaska,” Jones said. “It’s really important for the crew members to be engaged with the community as well so that way we can form that bond between the community and the Coast Guard. That way there’s mutual benefit and friendship.”

Joan Sargent helped tie in the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Pike on Jan. 31, 2024. The unit delivered donated goods from Petersburg to Wrangell for BRAVE Wrangell, a local nonprofit that focuses on violence prevention. (Colette Czarnecki/KSTK)

She said the Coast Guard Cutter Pike Unit probably does at least a dozen community engagements per quarter.

After the Coast Guard fit the boxes in the rectangle-shaped bucket, the crane lifted everything to the upper dock. That happened a few times.

Joan Sargent, from BRAVE, said she wants to see BRAVE events keep on going for the #WrangellStrong movement to continue. It began in November after a deadly landslide happened in Wrangell.