Last Saturday, January 11th, I had the pleasure of attending the National Capital Area Council (NCAC) Sea Scout annual Wardroom Dinner, held at the American Legion in Fairfax, VA. Because I work closely with two ships, I reserved my place under both units: Ship 7916 BLUE HERON, out of Occoquan, VA; and Ship 100, DOMINION, out of Gainesville, VA. Being the only person present from the ship I had helped to found, there was no dilemma; it was fine for me to sit with Ship 100.
It had been three years since I attended one of the dinners, so I enjoyed meeting up again with familiar adult leaders, and noticed that most of the scout faces were unfamiliar, which indicated a new crop of youth in the program.
The formal landship ceremony began with raising the colors, and, though the scouts were from ships other than my own two, I felt proud of the youth in dress blue uniforms, as they executed their duties seriously and carefully. Soon, the commodores were welcomed aboard the landship. They began to announce the awards, and I heard one ask if anyone was present from Ship 7916. I raised my hand, and was asked to come forward to accept the NCAC Wardroom Award on behalf of the ship, in recognition of its recent revitalization. It was strange to board a landship without being in a skipper’s uniform, without making the sharp turns, without stopping to salute the masthead and stern as I had always done previously. I was surprised at how much I felt like something important was missing.
Before I could sit down at the table again, Ship 100 Skipper Todd Skiles and Boatswain Ryan Stark were called up to receive the NCAC Outstanding Ship of the Year award. This was well deserved, as Ship 100 has been remarkably active, including hosting and performing the christening ceremony for SV BENJAMIN CHASE, the unit’s boat, named after Benjamin Wheeler and Chase Kowalski, the two Tiger Cubs killed during the Sandy Hook massacre.
The guest speaker, who was a Sea Scout in his youth, gave a presentation about his many adventures at sea, then the evening wound down. The Ship 100 boatswain and I enjoyed some conversation about sailing and Sea Scouting before I headed to the parking lot, one award plaque in hand. Before starting my car, I sat for a moment, smiling in gratitude for the efforts of each person involved in both of my ships–one ship on the rise, and the other rising again. Long may they sail!