(NECN: Matt Noyes) - "Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile," wrote New England poet, William Cullen Bryant.
But in this season that's delivered us a Halloween gale so powerful it duly earned the moniker, "The Perfect Storm," has spawned a hybrid coastal creature named Sandy so destructive she'll forever be known as a Superstorm, and has dispatched centuries of New England's worst tempests from the Tropics, autumn's lovely smile can turn to a sinister sneer on a dime.
In New England, nobody is as well prepared and nobody more able to stare down autumn's fury than the United States Coast Guard. These heroic men and women know what they're up against.
There is, perhaps, no place more quintessentially New England than Gloucester, Massachusetts, and no community who respects nature's fury so profoundly. The city has sent over 10,000 beloved sailing out into the Atlantic, never to see them return home.
Armed with a fleet of vessels, each propelled by the power of nearly 900 horses and equipped with the latest technology to probe the worst that nature can offer, the United States Coast Guard Station Gloucester is always at the ready to help those in peril on New England's waters.
On the day NECN visited, it didn’t take long before a distress csall came into the Communication Center.
"It's a really good adrenaline rush," said First Class Petty Officer Sean Gross. "It's not really a fear at all, you're actually excited – this is what you've been looking for, what you've been waiting for and training for your entire career."
Every year at this time, the crews at New England's Coast Guard Stations ready their gear, run their heavy weather drills, and shore up their alliance with our fishing communities.
"We have a face to face relationship with a lot of these guys," said First Class Petty Officer Rick Bowen. "We see them on the water, we talk to them"
And appreciation among New England's fishing boat captains runs deep.
"You're out there, you're anywhere from 20-80 miles offshore and you just can't call 911 – and so it's important to keep in contact with the Coast Guard at all times," said Yankee Fleet fishing captain Thomas Orrell.
Orrell has been on New England's waters since 1979 and he's seen what's at stake.
"We got out to the canyons and it blew up 70 knots and at that time we did see 20, 25 foot seas and that was pretty intense," he said.
In an unshakable bond forged in briny ocean air, Bowen says the Coast Guard has a mutual respect for the Gloucester boat captains.
"A lot of these guys are second, you know, third generation fishermen. They learn from their grandfather and their father, and so they really know what they're looking for," he said.
Amidst all the preparation in our marine community, there's one thing all agree upon.
"New England weather is pretty unpredictable, so we watch the weather pretty closely," said Orrell.
"New England weather is a formidable opponent," said Second Class Petty Officer Devan Smith.
New Englanders on the water and along our coastlines can take heart this fall, just like every other season, every other year. Smith assures us the preparation, the training, the tools and, most importantly, the men and women putting them to use, will be there.
"We're always ready, OK, that's our motto: Semper Paratus – we're always ready. And that's what we do," he said.