MEMBER ZONE
SEARCH NATIONAL SITE
SECURITY LEVELS

THE HISTORY OF FLOTILLA 7-16

Flotilla Logo


A group of men in 1960, along with their families and boats, found themselves as slip-mates in a marina of a small and growing community called Gulfport, Florida.  Their backgrounds were varied and diverse.  To some the water was a means of livelihood and others a bit of pleasure, but to each there was a common denominator:  a love of the water and a sturdy boat underfoot.  These friendships began to seek a higher purpose and what better way than along the lines of service, education and fellowship in an organization like the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.  Not just to join another flotilla, but to BE one in Gulfport.
 
Sixteen men began the endeavor to establish a Flotilla, meeting at the USCG Reserve building (now known as Boca Ciega Yacht Club), free of charge from the City of Gulfport, a water "port", supportive of this possibility.  After months of instruction, testing and preparation they received their Charter on  May 22, 1961.  Public boating safety courses began May 1962 at the Gulfport Casino. As an Auxiliary of the Coast guard, they were prohibited from owning real property, signing leases or accepting donations, so also in 1961 they formed the "not for profit", Gulfport Marine Training & Rescue Group, Inc. (GUMTARG) for these purposes. A lot was leased from the City in 1962 to erect a building of our own.  It was an excellent location on Boca Ciega Bay past the Marina with only one bad feature, it was under water at high tide!  The channel had to be dredged, sand deposited on the lot to build on and a seawall constructed of discarded telephone poles (the City later replaced this with a concrete seawall).  A bank loan of $3,000 was obtained by GUMTARG members and all labor was donated except for plumbing.  Fortunately, City Building Inspector Wm. Netling was a Charter member and able to offer planning, permitting requirements and guidance.
 
Boating Safety Courses have been taught at the current location for generations and many have gone on to become Auxiliary members to continue their boating education and involvement.  In fact, in 1967 the current Flotilla Commander, Jim Newman took the class here at 9 years old! Members have been called upon in the past to provide escort for Gasparilla, the Tall Ships and assist in marine emergencies such as the collapse of the Skyway Bridge and the sinking of the USCG Blackthorn. In 1971, we received the "Michelob Schooner", a national boating safety award from August A. Busch, Jr.  Volunteer hours for 50 years would be astounding that members have devoted to safety patrols, search and rescue missions, vessel inspections, ATON verification to insure navigational markers remain in place and in good repair, training with other Flotillas, the Coast Guard and Boating Safety courses.  At one point, our Flotilla had over 80 members and 12 vessel facilities, but a slow decline began in the 1980's and continued until the past few years when we began to grow again.  During our recent Division Awards for 2010, we received awards for Vessel Exams, best Program Visitor performance and Public Education for the greatest contribution of any Flotilla in addition to an individual award for membership growth.