Above: BM2 Taylor on the bridge of one of Station Humboldt Bay’s 47’ Motor Lifeboats.

USCG Sector Humboldt Bay press release:

Petty Officer 2nd Class Victoria Taylor, a boatswains mate from Station Humboldt Bay, was designated a Coast Guard Surfman today – the highest qualification a coxswain can achieve in the Coast Guard.  This makes her the Coast Guard’s 484th Surfman. She is only the sixth female Surfman in Coast Guard history to receive the designation and the very first from Station Humboldt Bay.  Additionally, she is currently the only watch-standing active duty female Surfman in the Coast Guard. 

Being designated a Surfman puts one in a very elite group –  only 5% of Coast Guard coxswains, or small-boat drivers, receive the qualification, which typically takes years to earn.  It took BM2 Taylor seven years to earn this prestigious qualification.  There are 20 designated “surf” stations in the Coast Guard, located in areas that regularly experience significant surf conditions (waves that pass over shallow areas and break).  Station Humboldt Bay, located on the south end of Samoa, is one of them.  While regular lifeboat coxswains are qualified to navigate their vessels into heavy seas, only Surfmen are allowed to navigate into breaking waves.

Above: A Station Humboldt Bay 47’ Motor Lifeboat driving through breaking surf.

Above: The “Wall of Surfmen” at the National Motor Lifeboat School in Astoria, OR.