Sailing with Sea Nanners

Sea Nanner

A happy Sea Nanner at the helm.

Some of my friends have recently asked why I am still involved with Sea Scouts, even though I officially retired from the skipper (unit leader) position some time ago. I stay involved because of the Sea Nanners.

Though it has been over a year-and-a-half since I wore my skipper’s uniform, I still turn my head when I hear a teenager call, “Skipper?” This means that I turned my head more than a few times on Saturday, when I went sailing with scouts and adults from Sea Scout Ship 100–the unit in which I bear the title “Sailing Coach.”

Ship 100 was chartered less than a year ago, but already has a fine little boat, named DOMINION. The unit is in process of obtaining its second boat, a Catalina 22 that will need a name. The scouts were discussing this as they rigged the boats for our sail on Saturday. One of them came up with the name SEA NANNER, which made everyone laugh. The scout who thought of the name noted that, “everyone will want to know ‘what’s the story behind that?’ One man with a random idea.” It was then decided that “Sea Nanners” would also be a good name for a sea scout unit (“ship”).

With the boats rigged, the four scouts divided into two sets, one of which went out in DOMINION with their skipper, and the other two with me and a second adult in the Catalina 22 named TAKIN’ IT BREEZY.

The wind was very light and the spot that looked best was pretty far up the river, so we motored out for about 10 minutes before cutting the engine and attempting to sail. At first it was very slow going, but after a while the wind picked up and we were moving along well. The scouts took turns at the helm, and each of them demonstrated improvement over the last time I was out with them. The one had been rather withdrawn and quiet, not seeming to enjoy the sail at all, and it was gratifying to see that this time he was engaged, smiling, and even sharing some of his wit.

Seeing a lovely old fashioned schooner in the distance–a rare sight on the river–I asked if anyone absolutely had to be back ashore by the appointed time. With assurance from all that they did not, we set out to chase down the schooner. Unfortunately, she was much faster than we, but we did get to take enough of a look at her to recognize that she was likely a historical reproduction and that she has an unusual upswept stern.

By then it was time to head back to the dock. The youth leader took charge by letting the other adult know he was welcome to take the helm, while the youth leader helped the younger scout learn knots and cover other items necessary for his rank advancement.

Back ashore, all the scouts helped bring in DOMINION and settle her on the trailer. They were clearly a team, a group of teens who enjoy sailing, take pride in their boat, respect their skipper and appreciate the opportunity to sail.

As they worked to finish securing their boat for transport, I bade them good-bye and headed back to the dock, where I enjoyed a very fine 2.5 hour sail alone in the Catalina 22. Right away I noticed the contrast between sailing solo and with the scouts; the boat was quiet, and she responded differently to the wind and the helm. Also, whenever I wanted to tack, there were no heads up to give or orders to follow; I just did what I wanted, when I wanted, without need to consider anyone else’s safety, comfort or needs. It was refreshing.

That jaunt also gave me time to think about the earlier sail–how much I enjoyed the scouts’ humor, seeing them grow competent and confident, and sharing with them the love of sailing. Yes, indeed, I keep spending my time volunteering because I love sailing with Sea Nanners.

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