On a remote lake in the hot Nevada-Arizona desert, being bigger isn't necessarily better.
One of the smallest U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary organizations, Flotilla 9-7 of District 11SR, was honored by BoatUS in August with the "Best Flotilla in the Nation" Award for 2011 at the auxiliary's national convention in San Antonio, according to BoatUS.
The flotilla, which has just one patrol vessel and the bare minimum number of members to sustain a unit, bested more than 1,000 other flotillas from across the United States for top honors.
Located in the southern portion of Lake Mead Recreation Area in Cottonwood Canyon on the shore of 67-mile long Lake Mohave, Flotilla 9-7's six vessel examiners managed to complete 1,117 free Vessel Safety Checks, more than 400 more than the previous year.
In addition, its single patrol boat, manned by 9-7's coxswains and crew, completed 21 safety patrols, verified the latitude and longitude of 33 aids to navigation, completed public affairs and educational missions and provided recreational boating safety information to thousands of lake visitors.
The sparkling yet treacherous 67-mile stretch of water downstream of the Hoover Dam is hemmed by a sheer-walled canyon and has blistering summer weather as well as afternoon winds known to kick up 4-footers that can smash boats against sheer cliffs and scuttle small craft.
"The men and women of Flotilla 9-7 excelled at their duties and did an amazing amount of work to help boaters stay clear of the dangers of the lake,” BoatUS president Margaret Podlich said in a statement. “By doing that they ensured everyone had a positive experience and came home safely.”