Scouting new horizons

There’s a lot to be learned in 80 nautical miles.

Paying attention to maps and charts, monitoring food and fuel and staying on course are just a few of the things Sea Scouts learned on a recent break-in cruise around Kauai.

The weeklong adventure for three adults and eight teens aboard the 40-foot “Decisive” had its challenges including bouts of rough weather that suddenly swept in, but the young seafarers pulled up anchor and rose to meet them.

“They gotta pull their weight,” said Commodore Larry Richardson, Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America Sea Scouting program.

Richardson led the trip that gave teenagers a chance to cut their teeth on boating and navigation and prepare them for longer treks farther from home and farther out to sea.

They went from Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor to Hanalei, down the Na Pali Coast and then on to Port Allen (anchored there to avoid stormy conditions) and finally back to Nawiliwili.

All cruises have high and low points. The main point being, the scouts learn from them.

“You have to take the good with the bad,” Richardson said.

It’s all thanks to the donation of The Decisive in 2009 to the Sea Scouts that made the program possible. The boat has a galley, separate berthing areas for boys and girls, and an engine room.

Sea Scouts start off as deck hands and learn new skills as they go.

On this particular trip, Kauai’s Alexis Baldwin was acting coxswain, in charge of navigation and steering. Being off just a fraction in setting a course can result in a finish far from what was projected.

“What she has to do on this boat, she has to walk the razor’s edge,” Richardson said. “She has to be a leader her crew wants to follow. She has to learn to inspire them.”

Baldwin got the job done as she stepped into the leadership role.

“I’m really proud of her for that,” Richardson said.

Scouts get lessons on plotting a course, using a depth-sounder and marine radio, and reading nautical charts. Richardson and supervisors oversee things, but don’t micromanage.

“The idea is really not me taking the kids for a boat ride,” he said. “It’s them taking themselves and me supervising.”

Richardson was a Sea Scout while growing up in San Francisco and his son was a Sea Scout. He understands the value of the program.

“I think people think this is like the primer to go to the military, or into a field like this, which it could be, but not necessarily. What I’d like them to do is take stuff with them wherever they go,” he said.

Some doubted a Sea Scout program would work here when he talked about it, but Richardson persisted. He told skeptics his plans to get a boat donated so Sea Scouts could venture around the Hawaiian Islands while discovering seamanship.

“You guys are crazy,” he was told.

No one’s calling him crazy now. Sea Scouts, turns out, are pretty cool — at any age.

“Having done it as an adult and having done it as a kid, it’s at least as much fun as an adult,” Richardson said.

Info: sssdecisive@aol.com

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