Blaine Sea Scouts acquire 29-foot Lancer sailboat
The names “May Ham” and “Kay Os” may seem unusual for the name of the Blaine Sea Scouts new 29-foot Lancer sailboat, but if chosen, they should complement their 26-foot Erickson “Luna Sea.”
The Lancer, which was donated to the group last week, will replace a 32-foot wood sloop, the Charee, which the Sea Scouts have had since their founding in 2004. The Charee was put up for sale, and when it sells all the proceeds will go to the Blaine Sea Scouts.
“The Charee is unique, but we don’t need three boats in the water,” said adult leader and first mate Yvette Pratt. “Wood boats are a lot more work, they are really susceptible to aging and this is a small program.”
Angus and Yvette Pratt, the adult leaders of the Blaine Sea Scouts, will be sailing the new fiberglass Lancer from Sandy Point to Colony Wharf in Bellingham this week for its initial haul-out. When the boat is finished the Sea Scouts will join the Pratts for a leisurely return trip to Blaine.
The Sea Scouts are a subdivision of Venturing, a branch of Boy Scouts of America. Unlike Boy Scout troops, Venturing and Sea Scouts are co-ed, and children cannot join until age 14. However, like the Boy Scouts, members can only stay through age 19.
Blaine Coast Guard Auxiliary member David Swartos started the Blaine Sea Scouts, officially known as Blaine Sea Scout Ship Boundary Unit 4096, in February 2004 because he felt there needed to be more opportunities for young people to be on the water and become boaters, Angus said.
Swartos, however, could not lead the program due to prior commitments, so the group’s charter organization, Grace Lutheran Church in Blaine, asked Angus and Yvette to lead the program.
Angus said he was quick to say yes because he had been involved in Scouts in Canada and was intrigued by the prospects of sailing down here.
“I was drawn to it because I love seeing kids ‘get it.’ It is that whole self confidence thing,” Angus said. “You can see the light in their eyes go off when they do things themselves, and it is great.”
Angus said the Blaine Sea Scouts are unique because they do not focus all their energy on water activities; sometimes they join forces with local Venturing groups to participate in rock climbing, camping and other land adventures.
“It also works vice versa,” Yvette said. “Land-based units come and do sea stuff with us, we don’t care if it isn’t normally done, we like to do all of it.”
Blaine’s ship – in Sea Scout lingo ship is used instead of troop – schedules meetings and afternoon sailings once a week and longer sailing trips once a month throughout the summer. In the winter, meetings are usually reduced to every other week and sailing trips don’t happen as often because of weather.
Angus and Yvette focus on teaching Blaine ship members sailing and leadership skills. Sailing skills include navigation, docking, knot tying, first aid and CPR, boat safety, rules of the road, or sea, more appropriately, as well as boating language and terms. Leadership skills include planning all the aspects of a sailing trip – stops, tides, meals, chores, duties, weather, lodging if needed, moorage and activities.
“The kids do everything and the adults supervise and support,” Yvette said.
There are six officers who are voted on by the scouts: the ship boatswain who is the youth leader of the scouts, conducts the meetings and works closely with the skipper, Angus; boatswain mate for programming, who is in charge of organizing activities; boatswain mate for administration, who is in charge of membership and recruiting; purser, who is in charge of finances and has check signing rights; store keeper, who is in charge of inventory and maintenance; and yeoman, who is in charge of communication, membership records and minutes at meetings.
Blaine’s ship also performs several community service projects including helping with the annual flare safety shoot-off and disposal as well as planting trees for the Terrell Creek salmon enhancement project, Angus said.
If you would like more information about Blaine Sea Scouts visit www.sship4096.info. To get involved, call Grace Lutheran Church, 360/332-6589.