Sea Scouts

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Sea Scouts for older boys was st|arted in the Boy Scouts of America in 1912, but did not become a part of the West Texas Scouting scene until the 1930's.  By then, local lakes were being built, boats were becoming more available, and the various councils were looking for new ways to keep the older boys in Scouting.

The boys could either belong to a Sea Scout Patrol within their own troop, or join a Sea Scout Ship which was separate from all the troops.  Sea Scouts had their own advancement program and a boy could advance through the ranks as Apprentice Sea Scouts, Ordinary Sea Scouts, Able Sea Scouts, and Quartermaster.

Sea Scout Patrols

The first known Sea Scout Patrol was organized in Troop 2, Brownwood, in October 1930.  Allen Beadle and Harold Brewer were selected as Coxswains of the patrol.  This group was active off and on from then through 1937.

Many other Troops had Sea Scout Patrols during the years of the 1930’s and 1940’s, but we do not have a record of these groups.

Sea Scouts - Chisholm Trail Council

First Sea Scout Ship Organized - 1930

The first know Sea Scout Ship organized in West Texas  was organized in the Chisholm Trail Council  in Coleman, Texas in early June of 1930.  The organization was the outgrowth of a meeting of seven Scouts and Scoutmaster Fred Ross at the First Christian Church.  The ship was composed of First Class Scouts and was sponsored by the Coleman Lions Club.

Scouts who were present at the meeting and became charter members were Fred Ross, Jr., Charles Smith, Burl Williams, Jim Leavell, Kenneth McFarland, Kenneth Medders and Ed McCurtain.  The committee was made up of B. A. Nance, Bryan Payne and C. M. Prater.

Second Sea Scout Ship - 1945

The next Sea Scout Ship in the council was organized in Abilene in the fall of 1945 and was called the S.S.S. Phantom, sponsored by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.  Claude Willis served as Skipper with D. R. DeRusha as First Mate.   At the start, they met in the backyard of Bill Williams.  According to Claude Willis "A long rope was laid out on the grass, in the outline of a ship's deck, and served as a land ship.  The boys secured some old pipe and made stands about thrity inches high with small concrete bases, and by drawing a rope through the top pipe of the stands a ship deck was made.  This served as a land ship until a meeting place could be secured."

By 1946, the Junior Chamber of Commerce had purchased a sailboat that could seat fourteen passengers that was built by R. C. Barton.  The boat was first launched on Lytle Lake.  Over the years the group won six first places in six major bivouacs, including three from a Tri-State Regional meet at Lake Texoma.  The trophy was a ship's bell from the U. S. S. Lexington.

Doyle Gray became the new skipper of the ship in 1950 and was succeeded by Jimmy Higgins in 1951.

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Sea Scouts - Concho Valley Council

First Sea Scout Ship Organized - 1930

The first Sea Scout Ship was organized on September 11, 1930, in San Angelo.  A Scout had to be 15 years of age and a First Class Scout to join the group.  Fire Chief John Parker served as Skipper, Zip Lee as First Mate and Harold Brown was Mate.  The first members were J. A. Owens, H. Lee McBride, Marion Brown, Truman Herreman, Oscar Avera and Bobby Myers.

The group met on Thursday nights in Troop 4's cabin in the Log Cabin Village.  By February 8, 1931, under the leadership of Fire Chief Parker the group had manufactured more than 50 canoes and several flat boats and had set them afloat on the Concho and Colorado rivers.

In March of 1931, the Sea Scouts were given a den in Troop 4's cabin.  Another Sea Scout Ship, with Jim Atkinson as Skipper, was organized in the council during the Spring of 1934.  Ship 13, of San Angelo, with fourteen boys, was for First Class Scouts, 15 years of age or older.  The boys built a hut on Lake Nasworthy where they kept one sail boat.  The ship was sponsored by the San Angelo Lions Club.

In early 1935, a second Sea Scout unit was  organized by the Scouts of Troop 49, Iraan, with Fred Nixon as Skipper. They organized the SHIP PARAGULT.

Loses Sailboat to Flood

The Sea Scouts of Troop 2, San Angelo, which had been organized in 1936, had just finished repairing their sailboat, to be used in their program when the September flood hit.  The boat was later found about a mile below the Nasworthy Dam with the mast, boom and sail completely demolished following the first rise.  However, the second rise took the boat down to Davy Jones’ locker!  They had to go find a new boat before they could get in the water.

By 1937, there were several Sea Scout units in existence: Sea Scout No. 13, San Angelo, nine members, Ed Brown, Skipper; Sea Scout Ship 3, San Angelo, five members, E. L. Starkie, Skipper; Sea Scout Ship 2, San Angelo, five members, J. W. Harrison, Skipper.

The only Sea Scout Ship to participate in the March 5, 1937, Boy Scout Circus held at the Municipal Auditorium in San Angelo was Ship 13.  They participated in Event No. 7, Senior Scouting.  On June 13, 1937, members of Sea Scout Ship 3, commanded by Earl L. Starkie, skipper, presented the opening flag ceremony at the dedication of Carr Village at Camp Louis Farr.

The Sea Scouts were all members of Sea Scout Patrol Crane which consisted of Bob Wooldridge, Jack Porterfield, Bill Bradley, Reginald Cook, coxswian; Joe Benson, yeoman and Jack Ligon, Paul Hemphill and Frank Benson.  The patrol was sponsored by the B. O. Wood Bible Class of the First Presbyterian Church of San Angelo.  Troop 10 organized a Sea Scout Patrol in February 1938, with nine members.  Skipper Walter Teague was at the helm.

The Albatross

In March 1938, Sea Scout Ship 72 was organized at Del Rio.  The first voyage of the Del Rio Sea Scouts was made on Lake Walk on Sunday, May 29, 1938 in their rebuilt boat, THE ALBATROSS.  The boat was 18 feet long, five feet six inches wide, and three feet deep.  It had one hundred and forty-nine square feet of sail and would carry as many as nine Sea Scouts.  The results of the first cruise was as follows: three nicely cooked Sea Scouts and one pair of glasses resting on the bottom of the lake, along with a Sea Scout hat.

The Boy Scout Circus, held May 6, 1938, at the High School Stadium in San Angelo, featured many more Sea Scout Ships and Patrols than the one Ship that participated in the 1937 Circus.  Sea Scout Ships 72, 73, 76 and 77 of Del Rio participated in the Historical Pageant and Indian Lore parts of the Circus.  Sea Scout Patrols of Troops 3 and 10, San Angelo; Troop 49, Iraan; and Troop 72, Del Rio; participated in the Senior Scouting part of the show.

A story, given in the Boy Scout Section of the San Angelo Standard-Times on February 8, 1939, listed only four Sea Scout Ships in the Council.  They were Ship 3, San Angelo, Pat Conway, Skipper; Ship 10, San Angelo, Walter Teague, Skipper; Ship 49, Iraan, Varn Brownlee, Scoutmaster; and Sea Scout Ship 72, Del Rio, Boyd W. Lovelace, Skipper.
Regatta In Ft. Worth

Several Sea Scout units from the Council participated in a Regatta held June 9-15, 1940, at Eagle Mountain Lake, near Fort Worth.  The Ships were from San Angelo, Del Rio, Iraan, and Eagle Pass.  Events held at the Regatta included sail boat races and model boat races.  On the final night, they had a Sea Scout ball and a Bridge of Honor, better known to Scouts as a Court of Honor.

S.S.S. Yates

A 25 foot cruiser, the S.S.S. YATES, built over a period of two and a half years by the Iraan Sea Scout Patrol No. 49, was launched on Lake Nasworthy on August 23, 1940.  The S.S.S. YATES was 8 feet wide and weighing in at 4,500 pounds, cost a total of $1,180.00 plus labor.  The boat was powered by a rebuilt Model-T engine and was painted white and green.  Officers of the cruiser were O. J. King, Skipper, Gradner Hinnant, Mate, and O. J. King, Jr., Cabin Boy.  There were 20 members active in the patrol at the time the boat was launched on Lake Nasworthy.  The boat was used for sea tests and served as Queen of the September Sea Scout Regatta.

The San Angelo Standard-Times listed the following Sea Scout Ships in its February 9, 1943 edition:  SS-71, Del Rio; SS-76, Del Rio; SS-5, San Angelo; and SS-91, Eagle Pass.  By February 8, 1949, only SS-71 of Del Rio with 10 members, was listed in the paper.

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Sea Scouts - Comanche Trail Council

Ships Organized In Iraan and Breckenridge - 1935

In early 1935, another Sea Scout unit was organized by the Scouts of Troop 49, Iraan, TX, Concho Valley Council, with Fred Nixon as Skipper.  They organized the SHIP PARAGULT.

Later that year, the first Sea Scout Ship was organized in the Comanche Trail Council up in Breckenridge, TX.  In August 1935, a group of Scouts from three troops in Breckenridge and one from Cisco came together and organized the first Sea Scout Ship in the Council.  They were SSS “Texan,” ship 40, sponsored by the Breckenridge Lions Club.  Russell B. Jones was the Skipper.  Jones had been in the American Merchant Marine under Captain F. W. Mein in 1926. At the time he was Manger of the Texas Electric Service Company in Breckenridge. The principal of the high school, John F. Bailey, served on the Ship Committee.  W. F. Thorpe was 1st mate and Lester Clark served as 2nd mate.   The following year, Thorpe became Skipper.

The group met on Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., in the Senior High School gymnasium.  As noted in the "General Information" of their charter application, the nearest body of water was thirteen miles away.  Nine boys, ages 15 though 17, were members at charter time.  Charles Brown and Crowell Werner were both Eagle Scouts.  James C. Rominger of Cisco, a Life Scout, was also a member and is living in Breckenridge today.   Other charter members were Bernard Clegg, Howard Hill, Alfred McCaleb, Jay Ray Nix, Clarence Potter and Phillip Shaw.  They put on a demonstration at the January 25, 1936 Council Annual Banquet in Brownwood.  This group was awarded first place as the most outstanding ship at the first Ninth Regional Sea Scout Regatta held in June 1936 in Fort Worth.

Rigging A Dinghy

Even though each boy retained active membership in his Scout Troop, they managed to complete the rerigging of a 14 ft. dinghy, “spirit rigged.”  Each boy averaged fifteen hours of work doing repairs, painting, caulking, sewing sail and doing general maintenance.  At the time of rechartering for the second year of their existence, the dinghy had been in the water for only a month.  By then each boy had averaged six days of cruising.

The ship went on to launch another sail boat in August 1936 called the ALTAIR on Lake De Lafosse.  During the early part of the year the group put on a demonstration at the Council Annual Meeting on January 25, 1936.   That fall they visited the Texas Centennial in Dallas and ended the year with a theater party.

In 1936 the ship made application to the Boy Scouts of America to acquire a 12 oared whaleboat. According to their application, the boat was to be shipped by Humble Oil and Refining Company, Baytown, TX, via Navy Oil Tanker Selinia, with arrangements made through Admiral Tauasig.   As far as we know they did not receive this whaleboat!

Ship 1

Bill Lynn, Skipper of Ship 11, Brownwood,  which later became Ship 1, Brownwood, remembered the time that his group decided to take a canoe trip from Lake Brownwood Dam all the way to Lake Buchanan on the Colorado River.  The ship had made five canvas canoes as part of their program.  They put three people in each canoe and headed down Pecan Bayou to the Colorado River.   Unfortunately, they had not checked to see how much water was flowing and ended up carrying or dragging the canoes a good deal of the time.  It was a trip they have long remembered.

Two of the canoes dropped out about half way, so only three canoes made the entire trip.  They took three weeks to get there and had parents drop off supplies at designated places along the river.  Needless to say, they did not attempt that trip again.

The ship spent a lot of time on Lake Brownwood, camping along the shore and on an island in the lake.  At the time, the dam was closed off to the public, but they had a key to the lock and went over to the other side of the dam, which was undeveloped at the time, and camped out many nights.  They had a sail boat and used it on the lake.

It was reported in the Brownwood Rotary Banner, on August 19, 1964, that "PDG Bob Blake, advisor of the First Methodist Church Sea Explorer Ship No. 1 and five members of the ship returned Friday from a four-day Gulf cruise aboard a Coast Guard cutter, sailing from Galvesto to Brownsville, Matamoros, Mexico, and other points."

 Quartermaster Awards

Ship 40 (SSS Texan) remained active through the end of 1953 and during that time seven of their members earned the Quartermaster Award, the highest award one can earn in Sea Scouting.  From SSS Texan #40: Harold Wohlford, 1940; Russell B. Jones, Jr., 1940; Charles Sommer, III, 1944; Johnnie Clarke, 1944; Charles E. Crum, 1944; Oscar Glover, 1946; and Cooper Robbins, Jr., 1949.

Harold Wohlford was the first Sea Scout to earn the Quartermaster Award in the council, and it was presented to him at the Council Annual Banquet on January 27, 1940.  He was honored at the 1937 North District Sea Scout Regatta as the Outstanding Sea Scout from the Texan and received a bronze medal from the sponsoring organization for this honor.  He was a crew leader for two years and one year as Chief Petty Officer.  In 1940 he was made Third Mate of SSS Texan, #40 at the age of eighteen.

The only other Sea Scout to earn the Quartermaster Award in the Comanche Trail Council was Marshall Bittick of Ship 11, Brownwood,  in December of 1950.

Sea Scout Units

Five other Sea Scout Ships have been organized in the Comanche Traill Council over the years.  Some lasted only a year, one for five years.   They were as follows:

Ship 1 - 5/31/59 - 5/31/65  Sponsored by First Methodist Church, Brownwood, William G. Lynn, Skipper
Ship 8  - 5/31/58 - 5/31/63  Sponsored by Line Riders Bible Class, First Baptist Church, Brownwood, Elmo Letbetter, Skipper
Ship 11 - 11/8/48 - 1/31/53 Sponsored by VFW Post 3278, Brownwood, William G. Lynn, Skipper
Ship 70 - 1/31/51 - 2/28/53  Sponsored by First Baptist Church, Brownwood, Groner A. Pitts, Skipper
Ship 77 - 2/1/47 - 2/28/48  Sponsored by Lampasas Junior Chamber of Commerce, Lampasas, Max Munn, Skipper
Ship 78 - 5/31/78 - 5/31/79 Sponsored by Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Brownwood, Ronald G. Brown, Skipper
Ship 130 - 12/31/78 - 12/31/80 Sponsored by VFW Post 3278, Brownwood, Ronald G. Brown, Skipper

There were never more than thirty Sea Scouts registered at any one time in the Council, and they disappeared all together in the Council by the end of 1980.  Several of the Sea Scouts and their Skippers are still active in Scouting today in other capacities and remember fondly their white uniforms and hours on the lakes in their small sailboats.

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Sea Scouts - Buffalo Trail Council

Wallace Craig recalls the time he went with Sea Scout Ship 51 sailing to the Bahamas in June of 1966.  He says, "Although I was an Explorer, several friends in Ship 51 talked me into going with them sailing to the Bahamas.  We had chartered a 52 ft. ketch, the Shark V, planning to go to Nassau.  But we arrived at the same time as Hurricane Alma and we had to lay in port for several days...currting our trip short. We finally made it to Bimini, Bahamas for about 2 nights as I recall."

A newspaper story had the folowing: 

Midland Scout Unit Arrives In Miami

"Nine members of Midland's Explorer Ship 51, and their leader arrived in Miami, Fla. Tuesday to be greeted by high winds and rain spawned by Hurricane Alma, but hope to begin a voyage into the Bahamas area by Friday morning.

"Dewayne Mosley, assistant leader of the group, talked by telephone to Mrs. Mosley this morning and said the group has taken possession of a 52-foot ketch and hopes to depart for a week-long trip by early Friday. 

"The group left Midland Saturday.

"The ketch at present is tied up in a protected channel, awaiting the return of favorable weather.  Mosely said the Midland youths spent Wednesday helping others to bring their ships into the protected channel.

"Explorer Ship 51, sponsored by the Midland Jaycees, is a unit of the Chaparral District, Boy Scouts of America."

OFF FOR THE CRUISE - Wallace Craig, left, and Mike Clark stow their gear as they join seven other members of Explorer Ship 51 and their adviser for a two-weeks trip to the East Coast and the Bahamas.  The Midland group left Saturday.

For a story about Sea Scout Ship 111's 243 mile hike to Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch from Big Spring go HERE.

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Information for this page taken from Panjandrum A History of Scouting in the Concho Valley Council 1911 - 1941 by Frank T. Hilton, 1990, the Brownwood Bulletin, June 12, 1930. Ninety Years of Service, A History of Comanche Trail Council 1910-1999 by Frank T. Hilton, 1999, and A History of Chisholm Trail Council Boy Scouts of America, a thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate School of Hardin-Simons University by Claude Olen Willis, August 1952.  Our thanks to Wallace Craig for providing us with Sea Scout Ship 51's trip to the Bahamas in 1966.

Last updated: June 3, 2011
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