Take to the sea with Sea Scouting

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From press releases

Now through Feb. 24, there is a fully-rigged Thistle racing sailboat on display in the Blount County Library. The rig is surrounded by an exhibit of pictures and charts about sailing and Sea Scouting.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, there will be an orientation meeting on sailing and Sea Scouting, which is open to boys and girls, ages 14 to 21.

Sea Scouting, possibly the best-kept secret in the Boy Scouts of America, began in 1912.

The sailboat, mast and trailer of the Thistle sailboat are about 30 vertical feet high right in the center of the library. It took twelve Sea Scouts and parents the better part of a day to bring this "Cinderella Story" to life in the library by carefully disassembling the mast, boom, rudder and boat from its trailer. Then, turning the boat on its side, it was rolled into the
library carefully, righted, lifted on its trailer, the mast stepped and the sails rigged for all to see.

The sailboat is a true "Cinderella Story" in that it was completely rebuilt by the Sea Scouts. The weekend before Christmas 2003 the skipper of the Ship picked up the thistle in Absecon and Bridgeport, New Jersey. The boat was partially buried in a salt marsh and half full of water. The boat’s trailer was dug out of the mud during a snow storm, new wheels attached, and the boat pulled on its rusty trailer onto a roadworthy flatbed trailer for the trip to East Tennessee.

Since then some 65 individuals and several marine companies have worked together to rebuild Absecon (the boat’s been named after its source) to a sailing dinghy of value. The project has been a grand opportunity for youth as well as their parents to work side-by- side rebuilding the boat and learning how to maintain and repair boats with new experience gained in fiberglass, wood, spray painting, reading blueprints, learning to sail, etc. Also helpful were suggestions from members of the Thistle Class Association across the country who responded to questions on some of the finer points during the rehab project.

Sea Scouts began in 1912. It was started by Admiral Warington Bayden Powell of the Royal Navy, followed shortly after the founding of Boy Scouts in 1908 by his brother Lord Thomas Bayden Powell. Since its early beginnings, largely based on the era of Rudyard Kipling, Sea Scouting has evolved into a modern-day package of fun on the water for young adults.

The local sailing club has been in our area for five years and is called Sea Scout Ship 300. Sea Scouts from Ship 300 last season placed 2nd in the Junior Olympics Festival southern region on Lake Lanier (Atlanta). Another crew from Ship 300 placed 4th in the United States Triple-handed Championships in Charleston. S.C., and a crew from Ship 300 placed 3rd in their division of the International Sea Scout Cup Sailing Regatta sponsored by Bill Koch (an America’s Cup winner) on Biscayne Bay (Miami) where Sea Scouts from many foreign countries gathered to sail together in competition against the wind and sea.

To learn more, visit the Blount County Library and see for yourself. To learn more about Sea Scouting visit
www.seascout.org, www.seascoutcup.org, www.concordyachtclub.org; scroll down to "Sea Scout Ship 300." For specifics, E-mail the skipper at ship300sails@yahoo.com, or phone the skipper at 865-980-0879, or phone the Great Smoky Mountain Boy Scouts of America office at 865-588-6514 and ask for Tom.

Sailing Club Sea Scout Ship "Freedom" 300 is sponsored by the Concord Yacht Club on Fort Loudon Lake, located at 11600 Northshore Drive in Farragut.

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