ESCANABA - Area youth who recently formed a sea scouting group participated in Scout Day at the U.P. State Fair Tuesday.
The scouts were showing off a 26-foot sloop they are restoring and hope to sail some day.
The Sea Scouts, an extension of local Boy Scouts Troop 411, organized here in February but actually began in 1912, one hundred years ago when the founder of Boy Scouts started the Sea Scouts of America, explained Colleen Simons, of Escanaba, a group leader.
Members of Sea Scouts BSA Troop 411 of Escanaba include, pictured above from left, Mark Lynch, Erin Simons, Tyler Anthony and Jane Baribeau. (Daily Press photo by Jenny Lancour)
Locally, the Sea Scouts is not unique to the area but dates back to 1934 when a group of young men organized in Escanaba, Simons said.
According to local history, the scouts bought a vessel, the Puritana which was retired from serving tours in the Soo Locks. Back then, the Sea Scouts trained onboard but later disbanded due to high fuel costs, the Great Depression, and World War II. The boat was made into firewood in the late 1940s.
Today's local Sea Scouts unit consists of both boys and girls who have been learning various boating skills. The youth hope to put these skills to work once they've restored a sailboat that was given to the group earlier this month, said Simons.
"The boat was a very generous donation," she said. The vessel came from the Garden Peninsula and was owned by a man from downstate Chelsea.
Sea Scout Mark Lynch, of Escanaba, said the group has had its work cut out for it because the boat had been sitting for years. The inside needed some major cleaning and several important parts - like the motor, rudder and anchor - are missing, he added.
"The boat's fun. We got it about a week and a half ago. We've been working on it for the past few days, scrubbing it out," Lynch said. "It hasn't been in the water since 1988."
The Sea Scouts renamed the boat the SSS Hiawatha. Once restored, the cabin will sleep six people, Lynch said. The restoration will be a winter project with a goal to put the boat in the water next spring.
Sea Scout Tyler Anthony, of Escanaba, who has grown up in a family of boaters, is hopeful the boat will eventually get launched.
"I'm hoping we can actually get this thing in the water and maybe even sail it if we're that good," Anthony said.
When asked how all the repairs will be paid for, Sea Scout Jane Baribeau, of Escanaba, replied, "We're self-funded so far."
In the meantime, the Sea Scouts will do what they can to fix it up and will continue to learn the ropes about sailing the seas.
Lynch said, "We learned about reading charts, buoys, and knots, and all sorts of cool stuff."
Baribeau echoed similar sentiments. "It's such a new experience... being a part of everything is really cool," she said.
Tuesday's Scout Day at the fair also included demonstrations of cooking peach cobbler and cheese and garlic biscuits in Dutch ovens. A monkey bridge, made of ropes and poles, was set up on site. Participants could also try making fire with flint.
Today is Ladies Day at the fair.