Mattapoisett rolled out the welcome mat for Sea Scouts visiting from Pennsylvania on June 19. With the assistance of Harbormaster Jill Simmons and locals willing to help the Scouts see as much as possible during their short stay, Ship 25 hailing from York, PA, tied up.
The day started out rather wet with low misty skies, not perfect for sailing. Undeterred, the Scouts under Skipper George Kain headed out of Fall River en route to Mattapoisett. As they sailed away from Battleship Cove where they had taken in the ships and history of Fall River, Kain – with the able assistance of seasoned trans-Atlantic sailor (and former Sea Scout) Brian Kurzik and five young Sea Scouts – navigated through glass-like waters. Kain said the trip was one of the most beautiful he has experienced in a long career of sailing the eastern seaboard.
By the time the boat navigated into Mattapoisett Harbor, the skies had cleared, giving the Scouts one of the most spectacular summer days the region has enjoyed thus far. And that was just the beginning for Dakoda Prize, 17 (BSA Eagle looking forward to a U.S. Coast Guard career); Pat Clemens, 17 (Boatswain for the ship, three years with BSA and Sea Scouting heading for a maritime education and career); Andrew Ankers, 15 (green Sea Scout on his first long voyage); Candace Kottmyer, 18 (the only female on-board, heading to Penn State in the fall, embarked on her third long voyage in three years of Scouting); and Kyle Roy, 16 (another green Sea Scout learning the ropes). These Scouts all began their Scouting careers in either the Boy Scouts or Girls Scouts before advancing into the more rigorous and exacting Sea Scouting program.
They hail from the greater York, PA area, a land-locked location where one wouldn’t expect an ocean-based program. Yet Kain, whose naval background wouldn’t be stilled upon retirement, brought Sea Scouting to the town. Kain served in the U.S. Navy for seven years and has owned and operated various types of boats since childhood. His résumé includes participation in the Bermuda race out of Marion and sailing from Cape Hatteras to Nova Scotia as well as other ports-of-call along the eastern seaboard. He explained that although one wouldn’t expect a sailing program to be offered in a land-locked location, there is access to the Chesapeake Bay about 65 miles east. So once a week, the Sea Scouts gather for the hour-long trip to the coast where they can learn and experience firsthand the skills necessary for safe sailing. Kain said with the program, “…Sea Scouting gives kids a seafaring experience they otherwise might not know about…” regardless of their location.
The group drove from Pennsylvania to Groton, CT where they boarded the 32-foot Endeavor, built in 1979, that had been loaned to them for the trip. From there, they sailed to Newport then on to Fall River before making landfall in Mattapoisett.
On shore, they were greeted by Emily Newell, 15, Mattapoisett, sophomore at ORRHS and second year Sea Scout with Ship 40 out of East Falmouth, along with her mother, Diane Newell (former GSA and Sea Scout) and grandfather, Alan Beal (retired Chief Warrant Officer, USCG and Sea Scout Skipper). Beal and Kain met through the Scouting program about ten years ago and have been instrumental in assisting each other’s programs over the years.
After enjoying a refreshing cold shower at the town beach bathhouse, the Scouts were treated to a private tour of the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum, which is now in preparation for its summer opening. Curator Elizabeth Hutchinson graciously opened the museum doors in advance of the official season start on June 26. The Scouts found this precious gem a real surprise and enjoyed the variety of exhibits it holds.
Next up was the New Bedford Whaling Museum, a must-see attraction on their itinerary. One of the most intriguing parts of the museum for these visitors was the half-scale model of the Bark Lagoda, an 89-foot tribute to Jonathan Bourne that was built in 1915 with funding from his daughter. At another exhibit, the Scouts got into the spirit by climbing the full-scale replica of a whaling ship “fo’c’sle,” or forecastle, giving them both a below-deck and on-deck reality check. Clearly, modern conveniences were on the Scouts’ minds against the stark reality of what life was like on a whaling ship in the 1800s. Cell phone cameras captured the moment. Then it was back to the 21st century and Nick’s Pizza, after which the Scouts hung out with the local kids at the first summer wharf dance.
At 9:00 am on June 20, under another sun-drenched day, the sailboat headed gently out of Mattapoisett Harbor with Newell on board to help maneuver them into Woods Hole. There the Scouts will meet up with the Falmouth crew for more sailing and camping adventures.
The Scouts headed back to their point of origin on Monday, June 23. They sailed out of Woods Hole to Block Island and then returned to Groton. Bos’n Clemens said, “Our trip has been wonderful. I’ve seen things I wouldn’t normally see living in central Pennsylvania and the people in New England have been beyond nice.” As for first mate Kurzik, he said, “I think I’ve found my new home. Mattapoisett is so beautiful and everyone has been very helpful. What a place!”
By Marilou Newell