Sea Farers Regatta to test scouts’ skills


These boats were among the earliest forms of air-sea-rescue where in the WWI era, fast motor boats were used to rescue aviators in coastal waters. From this technology came the parallel development of the PTs and the ASRs, of WWII, with the latter continuing in the role of a coastal rescue vessel. This boat is 85′ long, 20′ wide, and powered by two giant V-12 diesel engines, replacing the original gasoline engines. These were a bit longer than a PT boat, but lighter and had one less engine. The hull was technically a plywood, but these were laid-up in-place as 2-plys of mahogany and cedar planking, with the former on the outside. The layers of wood were held together by glue and a cotton-fabric core, attached to a wooden frame of oak, spruce, mahogany, and other woods. A very complex process to maximize strength and keep weight down.

For the 38th time, the Sea Farers Regatta will provide maritime challenges for a special part of Scouting – the Sea Scouts.

Devised by Chick Russell, this event is based at the Sea Scout Ship Albatross, in Martinez Waterfront Park. Adam Mollwitz is the ship’s current skipper.

But unlike conventional regattas, the Sea Scouts’ version is no race.

“This is land-borne,” Mollwitz said.

It is a series of opportunities for participants to demonstrate their knowledge and skills they’d use if they were sailing the open seas.

They will need to know a variety of knots, use of a compass and how to determine relative bearings.

They’ll heave lines and ring buoys, hoist someone in a bosun’s chair made of a knotted rope, climb other ropes, use a marlinspike to splice ropes, lift a water-filled barrel in the scuttlebutt contest, demonstrate knowledge of radio communication and pretend to rescue a stranded sailor in the breeches buoy contest, which like many is a timed event with plenty of rules.

Quizzes also are part of the regatta, testing the Sea Scouts’ familiarity with engine parts, sailing rules and navigation. They’ll also need to show they understand international signal flags and first aid procedures.

Besides the Martinez Scouts, the regatta will attract Sea Scouts from throughout the Bay Area, some from other places in California and one unit from Oregon. About 100 are expected to participate, Mollwitz said.

Sea Scouts itself is a 100-year-old program, and in the Bay Area, the Old Salts Regatta at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, is the oldest of these events, at a venerable 75 years.

Like many Sea Scout ships, the land-based Albatross is coed, something Mollwitz wanted when he became the skipper in 2010. The organization gives youth and young adults maritime skills, which Mollwitz said are also important life skills.

Adults are needed, Mollwitz said. “We need adults left and right to help out.” And while they are helping, they can learn some of the same things the Sea Scouts are learning.

And there’s more.

“The friendships you make in this program – I’d like to say 95 percent of my friends are from Scouts. It’s a lifestyle. You see my house, it’s straight maritime and nautical. I love boats.”

The public will be welcome at the regatta, which will have an open house especially to show the benefits of Sea Scouting to prospective members. The local Sea Scouts has just acquired an 85-foot air-sea rescue vessel, and has sold its old yacht that had been hauled out for maintenance for some time.

The new craft is a retired Army vessel, the All American, which has been part of the Martinez Scouts’ program for a few weeks.

At the open house, if the All American is in the water at the marina, Mollwitz said, “they’ll get to see the boat and get the story behind it.”

Adults who are interested will learn there are places for them as well.

The Sea Farers regatta starts early March 24, with registration beginning at 6:30 A.M. AND A Boatswain’s Meeting at 7:30 a.m. The opening ceremony starts at 7:45 a.m. Event directors meet at 8 a.m.

The quiz for all ships – participating groups – also starts at 8 a.m. The competition ends with Dingy Finals at 5:30 p.m., a less intense but no less fun part of the regatta.

The Scouts themselves will celebrate the day with a dinner and dance, at which the awards will be distributed.

The open house will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Those interested in Sea Scouts may call 925-708-2918, and those interested in attending the open house may do so at the Sea Scouts’ address, 225 N. Court St.

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