Protecting the Pacific Northwest
Area of Responsibility includes: Queets River on
the Washington Coast south to the Long Beach Peninsula (Ocean
Park/Nahcotta, WA) including Willapa Bay.
Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor is located in the middle of the town of Westport, Washington (pop. 1,892), 80 miles southwest of Seattle. It is the northern-most station in Sector Columbia River. The current station was established in 1974, although there has been a Coast Guard station in the area since the mid 1800s. Grays Harbor is a large commercial and recreational fishing port. Facilities include the dining facility, Administration/Operations building, boathouse, barracks for 32 people, and 24 units of family housing. The main building contains a 24 hour communications center, administrative and command offices, and the galley. The attached BEQ building is two story with berthing for the duty crews, operations and training offices, a classroom and a weight room. The upper deck has berthing for unaccompanied crew members or geo-bachelors.
The station has 4 search and rescue boats, including: the 52 foot- motor lifeboat "Invincible" (52'-HW SPC), two 47 foot motor lifeboats (47'-MLB), and a 25 foot Defender class response boat (25'-RBS). The 52'-MLB and the 47'-MLB have all been designed for operations in heavy surf conditions and are capable of being rolled over by breaking swells and re-right themselves with minimal damaged.
The Station is located at the entrance to Grays Harbor in Westport Washington, and guards the Grays Harbor bar, one of the most treacherous bars in the Pacific Northwest. Charles Jacobson first commissioned Life Saving Station Peterson Point (Grays Harbor in 1897). Charles Jacobson came to the United States from Norway in 1884. He first shipped out of Norway at the tender age of 15, by the time he was 21 he was licensed as master of sail. In 1885 he joined the Revenue Cutter Service as an able bodied seaman and sailed the Cutter Bear around Cape Horn to the West Coast. He joined the U.S. Life Saving Service in April 1887. His first Station was North Cove (Willapa Bay). He spent 5 years there and was married to Elsie Christen. Two of the children, Edward and Emily, were born in North Cove. He went from North Cove and transferred to Point Adams as Station Keeper for five years. During this time he had three more children, Marcus, Maude, and Roy. The Station was located near the Grays Harbor Light on the property that is now occupied by family housing. The Station did not have any crew assigned other than Jacobson. He frequently would have to into the neighboring town of Aberdeen and recruit drunken loggers to help fill his ranks. The stations original equipment was a non-bailing surfboat, a beach cart apparatus, and a boat wagon pulled by manpower. Grays Harbor saw its first motorized surfboat in 1914. Mr. Jacobson spent 20 years as Number 1 surfman at Grays Harbor and took part in 281 rescues without a single loss of life. He retired February 3rd, 1917. Of his children, Edward joined the Life Saving Service, Marcus and Roy joined the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment. Emily and Maude both married men who were in the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment.
Another notable Number 1 Surfman at Station Grays Harbor is Hilman Pearson. He first started as Number 8 Surfman in 1908 and moved his up the ranks until 1919 when he took a position at the nearby North Cove Lifeboat Station (Willapa Bay). He returned to Grays Harbor as Number 1 Surfman in 1922 and remained until 1938, retiring after 30 years of service on Washington's South beach. In late 1929 the Station was moved from its location near the lighthouse to a new location on the marina. The Station was in this new location from 1929 to 1973.
In early 1946 a boat from the Willapa Bay Lifeboat Station washed ashore near Ocean City on February 5th with no one aboard. The boat and its four-man crew had joined the Motor Lifeboat Invincible in the search for two Westport crab boats lost in a storm the previous day. The Invincible's crew last saw the 36 footer at approximately 1am on the 5th during a rendezvous south of Grayland.
During the coastal recreational salmon boom of the early seventies the Station was one of the busiest in the Coast Guard wide, with 707 assistance cases. The station relocated again to its current facilities on the east end of the marina on February 12th 1974.
The Station has a memorial dedicated to two crewmen from Station Grays Harbor who lost their lives during the night of November 15th 1977 while on a training mission at the National Motor Lifeboat School. The Utility Boat 41332 capsized in adverse sea conditions on the Columbia River Bar.