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Sea Scout Ship 185, the local chapter of the Sea Scouts, based at the Tampa Sailing Squadron in Apollo Beach, played host for their 25th annual Tampa Bay Sea Scout Regatta. Sea Scouts from around the Tampa Bay Area, Florida and the Southeast converged on the Tampa Sailing Squadron to actively fulfill their mission of introducing young people to the water, with safety always at the forefront. The weekend provided near-perfect conditions as the scouts learned to rig their sailboats, with many of them, impressively, heading out from the docks under sail.
During the regatta weekend, the water was never far away as the visiting Sea Scouts set up tents to camp in during the event in the lot at TSS, just off Apollo Beach Boulevard. The regatta took place on April 26 − 28.
The Sea Scouts, part of the Boy and Girl Scouts, is an organization with members around the world, with a particular emphasis on water-based activities ranging from kayaking, canoeing and rowing to sailing. The Sea Scouts provide an opportunity for young people to sail, cruise on boats and learn about navigation with an emphasis on safety and gaining seamanship abilities and competence.
In Apollo Beach last weekend, it was all about sailing as Sea Scouts pointed their bows into Tampa Bay. According to Ship 185 Skipper Don St. Amour, for some of the young people involved, this was their first time on the water.
There are few things in life so enjoyable and educational as sailing. At Ship 185 in Apollo Beach, the co-ed program is open to young people 14 to 20 years old, along with adult advisors. Learning to sail has long been known as a way for youth to build self-confidence in ways that extend far beyond the water.
That is something that Skipper St. Amour knows well. He began his post in charge of the Apollo Beach Sea Scouts in 2005, arriving with a diverse sailing background and a strong desire to teach the next generation of sailors and boaters. St. Amour is a Queen’s Scout, the Canadian equivalent of an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.
“We welcome all young people and no previous experience with sailing or boating is required,” he said.
“Sometimes we prefer they don’t have any experience,” he added with a smile. “Then we don’t have to un-teach any bad habits.”
While having fun and learning to enjoy the water is a big part of their mission, safety is always paramount. There is no experience or educational level at which safety on the water can be taken for granted.
According to their website, Apollo Beach Ship 185 offers a wide variety of experiences with unique access to both the water and boats of all kinds. In part their mission reads:
“You can learn to sail, to row, and to keep a boat in shape; you can cruise local waters or go sailing on long cruises far from home. You can learn to Scuba dive and take care of boats. You’ll be active in camping, social events, tours, regattas, excursions, and seamanship contests. You’ll also have a chance to develop maritime skills that can lead to careers later on.”
Prior to hosting their own annual regatta last weekend, the Ship 185 Scouts attended a regatta in Palm Beach county in February.
Ship 185 is sponsored by the Tampa Sailing Squadron in Apollo Beach. Local businesses and individuals may also help with the scouting organization. According to their website, many items are always needed to help “keep the ship afloat,” including old towels used in cleaning the boats, foul-weather gear and two-way, walkie-talkie-type or VHF radios.
The Sea Scouts, founded in 1909, is open to all youth ages 14 to 20 years old. In Apollo Beach, at least two scouts have gone on to become leaders in their own right. For information about joining the program or how you can help, email Ship 185 at SSS185BSA@gmail.com or visit their website at https://sites.google.com/site/sss185apollobeach/home.