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So You Want To Be A Pirate?

July 18, 2017

By Dennis and Bavette Battern, Ship 5496

Maybe you dream of sailing across the ocean to a deserted island, want to feel the ocean breeze in your face as the captain of your own ship, join a sailing racing team, or simply float with friends on the lake. These are great dreams and you can learn to do it all in the Greater St. Louis Area Council. As Scouts, you are aware of the opportunities to camp, hike and enjoy outdoor activities, but did you know there are also amazing opportunities to sail? Sea Scouts is a program in the Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1912. Instead of troops or crews, Sea Scouts are organized into ships. These ships offer co-ed youth 14 to 20 the opportunity to learn to sail, practice their skills, race against other youth and area sailing clubs, as well as participate in international races, a.k.a. regattas, such as the Koch Cup. In 2017, area Sea Scouts will be sponsoring the Pierson Cup, one of three qualifying races in the Midwest.

I am an adult leader in Sea Scout Ship 5496, one of six ships in the Greater St. Louis Area Council. Our ship works with other ships in the area to provide several boats for youth to learn in and enjoy. Some of the boats, which range from 12’ to 22’, sail fast and are excellent for racing while other boats have interior cabins allowing scouts to overnight on the water.

Our ship has many sailing activities throughout the year; Thursday and Sunday sails on Creve Coeur Lake, weekend sails on Carlyle Lake, summer fun on Lake St. Louis, high adventure weekend on Kentucky Lake, and sailing on the Mississippi River. The 2017 event calendar includes the opportunity to sail over 100 hours on 6 different lakes in 10 different boats. In 2018 our plans include a trip to High Adventure Sea Base in Key West. The week-long adventure offers living and sailing aboard a 40’-50’ vessel, swimming, fishing, snorkeling, laughing, learning and fun!

Never sailed? Not a problem. You’ll learn how in Sea Scouts! Ship 5496 offers free sailing lessons several times a year, taught by a Certified US Sailing instructor, including classroom sessions on boating safety, sailing and racing techniques, and on the water skills practice. You will learn parts of the boat, how to rig a boat, points of sail, tacking, jibing, weather, docking, and wind direction. If you are also in Boy Scouts, you can earn your Small Boat Sailing Merit Badge.

Interested in advancement? There are four ranks within Sea Scouts: Apprentice, Ordinary, Able and Quartermaster. The top rank, Quartermaster, is the nautical equivalent to an Eagle Scout. Last year, only 33 Sea Scouts earned the coveted Quartermaster Award. To earn this master rank, you must command a ship for an extended cruise of at least 40 hours including an overnight passage. Set your standards high! The Coast Guard Academy recognizes the value of these leadership, organizational and nautical skills learned in Sea Scouts. Many Scouts go on to enjoy successful careers in the Coast Guard, Navy, and other maritime industries as well as making a difference in ocean conservation and marine biology.

To find a Ship near you, simply contact your district executive. You can learn more about Ship 5496 at www.seascout5496.wordpress.com, or find us on Facebook.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Dennis & Bavette