Long ago and far away I was a Sea Scout.
Sea Scouts were part of the Explorer program
of the Boy Scouts of America. Our boat was the
SES Seahorse 243.
Much of the person I have become I owe to my
sailing days. It was here that a young, reserved
girl said goodbye to her protective family, worked
hard and gained her independence.
Being a Sea Scout on a successful ship took a lot
of commitment. We worked all year round to
keep our boat in ship shape. In the winters we
would sell movie tickets to movie night fundraisers,
deliver telephone books and sell candy ~ all to raise
money to keep ourselves afloat. Many weekends we
would have work parties to prepare the ship for sailing
season. From April through October we spent each
weekend taking scout troops on trips to West Point,
Mystic Seaport or Greenport, Long Island.
When we would go to Mystic Seaport, which is a living
history museum showing a seafaring village, I always
slept on the deck so that when I woke up we would be
docked next to the whaling ship The Charles W. Morgan
and the village was coming alive with all of the costumed
interpreters moving around the village before the museum
opened. I always felt as if I had gone back in time. Fall was
my favorite time to visit West Point, seeing the Fall color of
the trees as we sailed along the Hudson was spectacular.
Now all of this sounds like fun and excitement but the
reality for the crew of this ship was we were working.
We had to do helm watch, log watch, engine room watch,
cook meals for 40 people in a very small galley and clean
everything up and keep the ship clean. And then there
were the overnight watches, someone was on duty 24
hours a day to make sure everything was safe and secure.
Being woken up for the 4am to 6am watch wasn't fun but
it was part of the deal.
All of this work was for an ultimate goal, The Long Cruise.
The Long Cruise was our time, two weeks in the summer
where we got to go on a grand adventure. The most
exciting long cruises I went on were the two international
cruises where we sailed up to Montreal Canada from our
home base near New York harbor. One year we went
through the Erie Canal and all the locks along the way.
That's me in this photo, the one who looks like she is
about to strangle herself. We are in our work uniforms
which were blue work shirts and jeans. We also had dress
uniforms, a blue wool for winter and white for summer.
It is hard to describe to people the magic of these days.
We were able to travel with our best friends and see
new places and meet new people. This is probably the
root of my wanderlust, the starting point that has made
me a world traveler.
The man behind all of this was our Skipper Rudy Giess.
None of this would have happened without him. He was
a man who devoted his life to countless Sea Scouts through
the years. He had a gruff, cantankerous exterior with a
heart of gold. The sad news came in the middle of the
night that Skip had passed away. I'm sure there are
scores of people who will be reliving many happy memories
of this wonderful man today and for years to come.
I know I will, Fare thee well Skip, may you find calm seas
and a safe harbor.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the tradewinds in your sails,
Explore, Dream, Discover