Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Scouts spearhead drive to save training vessel

On December 1, 2009, the News and Messenger published this story on page A2.

Scouts spearhead drive to save training vessel

When the Chesapeake Flotilla's Sea Scout training vessel was taken out of commission due to the need for extensive repairs, scouts from Occoquan Sea Scout Ship 7916 swung into action, initiating the "Save der PeLiKan" campaign.

Der PeLiKan, a 46-foot Morgan ketch has eight berths, two heads and a galley, is owned by a regional non-profit organization. The vessel is used by hundreds of youth and adults for training that includes piloting, long cruises, weekend training cruises and advanced leadership courses.

Repairs will cost about $20,000 and the "Save der PeLiKan" campaign has raised more than $5,490 so far, with more ideas in the works.

For instance, Patriot SCUBA of Occoquan will contribute part of the tuition from its upcoming "Discover SCUBA Diving" classes. Sea Scouts, part of Boy Scouts of America, is a co-educational program known for helping thousands of young people develop self-confidence, seamanship and leadership skills on and around the water.

"My scouts spent two week-long cruises and several weekend cruises aboard the training vessel, as well as applying their elbow grease in exchange for time aboard, so we know how important der PeLiKan is and we are anxious to see completion of the repairs," said Shay Seaborne, the "skipper," or adult leader of Ship 7916.

"If the boat is not back in commission by spring, hundreds of scouts will miss out," Seaborne said.

Sea Scout Rebecca Siegal, 18, of Alexandria, serves as the top youth leader for Ship 7916. She learned the majority of her seamanship and leadership skills aboard der PeLikan, and explained that "on a boat that size ... teamwork is needed in order to raise or lower sails, fend off, and anchor, and der PeLiKan allows scouts to learn these skills safely."

Lake Ridge resident Stella Kent, mother of 15-year-old Sea Scout Jonathan Kent, said that the time her son has spent on der PeLiKan has given his parents "glimpses of the man he's becoming. We have seen him become more self-assured—follow through when he'd rather quit, and step up to responsibilities—because others were depending on him."

Gift of opportunity

Friends of Sea Scouts of Maryland received der PeLiKan as a donation from Claire Kennedy, an elderly woman who wanted her boat to give special opportunities to young people. This year marks der PeLiKan's 10th year of service to Sea Scouts from across the country. Since being donated, she has logged more than 300 days under way and provided sailing experience and leadership opportunities to nearly 800 youth.

Der PeLiKan, the centerpiece of the Chesapeake Flotilla's training program, is used for both adult and youth courses that include Sea Scout Prepared Afloat Meals, Sea Scout Advanced Leadership, Seabadge Underway, piloting courses, long cruises and weekend training cruises.

For further information, visit http://www.derPeLiKan.org. Donations are accepted by PayPal or by checks made out to "Friends of Sea Scouts of Maryland" with the notation "repair fund" and send it to Friends of Sea Scouts of Maryland, 1426 Crabhouse Rd., Lusby, MD 20657.

Sea Scout Ship 7916 is a co-ed group of 14-20-year-old youth that is part of the Venturing program of Boy Scouts of America. Venturing offers older scouts the opportunity for high adventure, and Sea Scouting focuses on maritime adventure. Sea Scouting includes a rigorous advancement program that leads our youth through the skills necessary to be a very competent sailor and mature leader.

Occoquan VFW 7916 is the group's chartering organization. Town Mayor Earnie Porta is the committee chair and the unit is named Blue Heron in honor of the Occoquan town symbol.

The ship has support from the local community including Carefree Boat Club, Prince William Marina, Mom's Apple Pie Bakery, Leesylvania State Park and the Occoquan Town Council.

The ship's Web site is http://www.ship7916.org, where you can read about the scouts' activities. View the online photo album: http://picasaweb.google.com/Skipper7916.

For more information contact Shay Seaborne at 703-494-6021 or by email at Skipper7916@gmail.com .

—Occoquan Sea Scout Ship 7916