RECOMMENDED BY THE NRA for winter aids to navigation work: Crew members of some Coast Guard buoy tenders have learned that a great way to clear away ice build-up on buoys in need of winter maintenance, repair, or removal is to blast them with a shotgun. A former crew member of the Coast Guard buoy tender Mesquite (which sank after running aground in 1989) reported recently that he and his colleagues used to use a 12-gauge riot shotgun for speedy removal of pesky ice clinging to the tops of buoys on deck. "You would be amazed at how cheap it was to fire this weapon," he wrote in the Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation Bulletin. "Ricochet was minimal as was the range. Proper ear and eye protection were mandatory. All people on deck, not including the shooter, hid behind the gunwale and waited until the shooter had cleared (ice off) the bail. This usually took eight or nine rounds or about 20 seconds." Does it surprise you that the author is now a Coast Guard gunner’s mate on another ship?