Scout Ship 16 visits New York

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 11, 2002

Members of Suffolk-based Scout Ship 16 and Ship 100 (Poquoson) completed a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to New York City for the 90th anniversary of Sea Scouts aboard &uot;Chessie&uot; a 54′ ketch sailing initially to Annapolis Md. to join the regionally-based BSA Chesapeake Flotilla.

While in Annapolis, the Sea Scouts (co-ed, ages 14-20) had an opportunity to visit the U.S. Naval Academy, and received a very nice send-off by several local prominent citizens (specifically, the mayor, and a blessing of the fleet by Monsignor Brady, an Eagle Scout and longtime supporter of scouting).

The crews departed the following day, along with the rest of the fleet, and sailed to Chesapeake City (Md.), then onto Cape May, NJ for a couple of days sightseeing.

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&uot;Chessie&uot; then set off for Sandy Hook, N.J. in blustery winds that gradually climbed above 30 knots. A front was advancing on the area and Captain Tom Dade knew that it would be best to stay ahead of it. So the crew pressed on overnight to make Sandy Hook in great time and beat the severe northeast wind that followed the front.

The rest of the fleet was not so lucky, and had to find shelter from the high winds, one boat even having to swap off sea sick crew with another boat.

Sea Scout leader Kathleen MacCord served as a leader aboard &uot;Windress&uot; a 40′ yawl out of Annapolis, and experienced 38-knot winds and 10-14 foot waves as they worked their way to windward after laying over at Atlantic City.

Although demanding, these experiences provided both leaders and scouts an opportunity to grow in their seamanship skills.

Scout Fleet 2002 was as memorable an event as anyone is likely to experience in scouting. Beginning on July 26 with a crew meeting and administration, that actual event began on the morning of July 27. The entire fleet, 40 boats from all over the East Coast and Texas, paraded in a column of two out to the Statue of Liberty.

The fleet came around and proceeded to the area just off shore of the World Trade Center, where, after a moment of silence, a wreath was laid in the water. The crew snapped to attention and gave a hand salute. It was a very moving moment.

The fleet then continued on to the berthing at the Intrepid Museum. This was an excellent site for this event as the museum is rich with nautical history and provided the right ambiance. They berthed along side the carrier USS Intrepid, a submarine and a destroyer.

That afternoon, a ceremony was held in the museum, open to the public, and it was quite a sight to see those sea scouts in their dress uniforms in formation. There were several speakers including, the National Venturing Chairman, the Regional Commodore, The National Boatswain, the Regional Boatswain and speaking on behalf of the Governor of New York, Vice Admiral Crain of the N.Y. Maritime Academy.

A Sea Scouting Exposition followed, with demonstrations and exhibits provided by many of the visiting ships. That evening a DJ provided the latest dance music for the benefit of the crews at a dance on the dock!

July 28 was the last day of the event. Crews formed around the dock and a short service was held, followed by an awards ceremony.

Our own Sea Scouts of America Colonial Virginia Council crews took nearly half the awards! Ship 16/100 was awarded the &uot;Best Exhibit&uot; and the &uot;Longest Cruise&uot; awards and Ship 135 won the &uot;Biggest Crew&uot; award.

After that, each of the ships’ skippers and boatswains came forward to receive the Scout-fleet Medal from the NE Regional Commodore and NE Regional Boatswain.

It was a proud moment for all of us, and, as my boatswain and I returned to our crew after receiving our medals, we could see the pride beaming on the faces of each and every member of our crew. It was a moment a scout leader lives for.

&uot;Chessie&uot; departed NYC for two days of ocean sailing, practicing the watch system, navigation, piloting and looking for landfall at Ocean City, Md. There they enjoyed two days of R&R, browsing the boardwalk, swimming in the marina pool, lounging on the beach and enjoying the many amusements that Ocean City has to offer.

From Ocean City it was an overnight sail to the Chesapeake Bay and home, to return to their normal lives full of memories and new friendships formed – and the pride of a job well done!

Bravo Zulu Colonial Virginia Sea Scouts!

For more information on Sea Scouting in the Suffolk area please contact Jim MacCord at 538-8869.

(This week’s column was co-authored with Boy Scouts of America’s Sea Scout Skipper Jim MacCord of Suffolk.)

LCDR Joe DiRenzo III is a resident of Suffolk and a regular columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald.