Last night, my scouts executed their first full blown “landship” ceremony during Sea Scout ship 7916’s annual recognition dinner. This is a formal tradition with dress uniforms and the setting a mock-up of the deck of a ship. Our event included a flag-raising, execution of various commands with sharp turns and snappy salutes, and piping the skipper aboard and ashore.
The skipper’s role in the landship ceremony is simple: salute the main mast and flag when coming aboard, inspect the crew if desired, greet any dignitaries, present awards, notify the Officer On Deck (OOD) when ready to depart, salute the main mast and flag when disembarking. The OOD contributes to the ceremony as well, but the bulk of the effort is on the part of the scouts.
When it came time for me to tell the OOD that I was ready to depart the ship, Mate Anderson went off script and said, “No you’re not.” This breech of protocol surprised me until I noticed that our OOD was lifting a paper gift bag. Having been almost moved to tears by the ship’s prior gifts, I took a deep breath and steadied myself.
Mate Anderson proceeded to present to me two fine appreciation keepsakes, explaining that the scouts had decided on these gifts to recognize the effort I put into forming the ship. Mark said he knows it takes about three times the effort to start a ship as to run it, and he commended me for a job well done as he presented a very nice mug that bears the international signal flags for “B” and “Z”, with “Bravo Zulu” printed beneath. This is the international signal shorthand for “well done,” as in “good job.”
Our OOD also presented to me a beautiful plaque with a clock embedded in a little porthole that actually opens and latches. Underneath the clock is a small brass plate with the inscription, “To Shay Seaborne, Founding Skipper, Sea Scout Ship 7916, Blue Heron, From a Grateful Crew.” Thankfully, Mark has a very mellow demeanor and he stuck to the facts. Otherwise, I might have cried.
With the ceremony over, our scouts, families, adult leaders and guests enjoyed socializing around a nice potluck dinner. The evening ended with my brief slideshow recap of a year’s worth of activities, and scout Daisy’s warm “good-bye” slideshow, which showcased my daughter, who is a charter member of the ship, and the first to age out of the program–which she will do in about two weeks.
The Sea Scout program is ideally to be scout-led, but from what I have observed, this is often not the case. Our scouts planned and executed a terrific dinner and landship, with only a touch of support from ship adults. I am proud that our scouts’ leadership abilities and motivations have been supported to the point that they are taking the lead so well. Bravo Zulu, scouts!