The formation of Lake Lanier in the 1950s provided an ideal launching for Sea Scouts, an arm of the Boy Scouts’ Venturing program, in Hall County.
But somewhere along the way, interest faltered and Sea Scouts fell dormant.
The Northeast Georgia Council’s Chattahoochee District is forming a new “ship,” or group of Sea Scouts, through the sponsorship of American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7 on Riverside Drive in Gainesville.
Recruiting efforts are under way, including at this past weekend’s Mule Camp Market and an upcoming visit to Gainesville High School.
“Anybody interested in sailing or the sea, we’ll welcome them,” said Charles A. DeSaussure, assistant district commissioner for the Chattahoochee District.
“Kids need something like this. You teach them leadership skills and they have fun (at the same time).”
Ship 27, or the “Flying Dutchman,” plans to meet Tuesday nights at the post, possibly as early as Oct. 19.
The American Legion has “agreed to let us use their marina for our boats,” DeSaussure said, adding that the ship will begin with two sailboats, Santana 21 and Tanzer 22.
Nationally, Sea Scouts was founded in 1912, just two years after Boy Scouts of America was born.
“Basically it teaches seamanship, lore of the sea,” DeSaussure said.
The coeducational program is open to youth age 13 to 21.
Ted Golab, the adult leader or “skipper” of Ship 27, approached the Boy Scouts about starting a ship after moving to the area a few years ago, DeSaussure said.
“One of the things in his bucket list was to form a Sea Scout ship,” DeSaussure said. “We said, ‘Yeah, we’ll help,’ and got some other folks involved, several (of whom) are ex-Navy.”
“This is a Navy thing, right down to the (design of the Sea Scout) uniforms,” DeSaussure said, adding that the scouts “get preference going to the Naval and Coast Guard academies.”
Golab couldn’t be reached for comment.
Ship 27 has four members so far, and DeSaussure feels confident the numbers will jump.
“If you’ve got the program, they will come,” he said. “If you have a good program, the kids will be there. If you have a bad program, the kids will vote with their feet.”
The ideal size for a ship is 15 to 20 members, so if there is a big enough response to recruiting, “we could create another ship,” DeSaussure said.
Sea Scouts held a regatta, the 2010 AAC Commodore’s Cup, at Lake Lanier on Sept. 12.
“We weren’t ready for that. We want to make sure we have all our ducks in a row and our leaders have been trained,” DeSaussure said.
Bimbo Brewer, a member of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office Victim Witness Protection/Assistance Unit, was a member of Boy Scout Troop 26 at First Baptist Church on Green Street when he joined Sea Scouts in the late 1950s.
He said he had not heard about a new ship being formed.
“I think that’s great. I think it’s long, long overdue,” Brewer said. “We have the lake as a wonderful facility and I’m sure the program has advanced far beyond where we were in those days.”
He recalled learning basic seamanship in his youth.
“You had to advance in the ranks ... and had to know an unbelievable number of seamanship knots, and we practiced those things,” Brewer said. “We were very, very good at them.
“We were pretty proficient seamen.”