Ship 7916 spearheads drive to save regional training vessel

When the Chesapeake Flotilla’s Sea Scout training vessel was taken out of commission due to the need for extensive repairs, Ship 7916 swung into action, initiating the “Save der PeLiKan” campaign. Der PeLiKan, a 46’ Morgan ketch, is used by hundreds of youth and adults for training that includes piloting, long cruises, weekend training cruises, and advanced leadership courses. The vessel cannot be sailed again until the main mast and standing rigging is replaced, and repairs will cost approximately $20,000. 

The boat is owned by Friends of Sea Scouts of Maryland, Inc., a non-profit foundation that received der PeLiKan as a donation from Claire Kennedy, an elderly woman who wanted her boat to give special opportunities to young people. This marks der PeLiKan‘s 11th year of service to Sea Scouts from across the country, providing 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 (SPAM), Sea Scout Advanced Leadership (SEAL), Seabadge Underway, piloting courses, long cruises, and weekend training cruises.Currently, der PeLiKan is in winter storage in Baltimore, MD. Captain Steve Nichols has investigated many different approaches to making der PeLiKan operational. He determined that the best course is to order a new mast from a firm in North Carolina, and have it installed in Maryland. It will take 3-4 months for the mast to be made, and another month for installation. Raising $20,000 in a few months is a tall order, and Ship 7916 “Blue Heron,” of Occoquan, VA has responded to the challenge in a variety of ways: holding a car wash, dedicating proceeds from the NCAC Halloween party it hosted, taking donations as reservation holders for a Boating Virginia course, and invited friends, family, acquaintances and associates to contribute. In addition, the ship is working with Patriot Scuba, also of Occoquan, to host a “Discover Scuba Diving” class, from which half the proceeds will go toward the repair fund.

Other ships in the region—and beyond—have also contributed to the fund. S1009, Bowie, donated $1,270 in individual and ship contributions. George Crowl, Skipper of S1996, Houston, TX, contributed $100, because one of his scouts “had an excellent SEAL experience” aboard der PeLiKan.” Many donations have come in smaller denominations, of $50, $25 and even $10, and each of these is a valuable contribution. “Our ship knows how important der PeLiKan is and we are anxious to see completion of the repairs,” noted Shay Seaborne, the Skipper of Ship 7916. “If the boat is not back in commission by spring, dozens of scouts will miss out, and their adult leaders will lack of valuable onboard training,” she said.

The fund has just passed the $8,000 mark, with $12,000 more needed by spring. To help with your donation of any size, visit 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 sent to Friends of Sea Scouts of Maryland, 1426 Crabhouse Rd., Lusby, MD 20657.

[A modified version of this article was published in the December 1, 2009 edition of the News & Messenger.]

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