It was a cold day to be a Sea Scout.
The thermometer said 35 degrees, and the icy wind driving up the Thea Foss Waterway made the Youth Marine Center seem even colder.
But the 75 junior sailors from throughout Puget Sound who gathered Saturday for Tacoma’s first Sea Scout Rendezvous barely seemed to notice.
Some even stripped down to T-shirts as they competed in events that included racing rowboats, wrestling in and out of Gumby survival suits and tossing life rings.
“I think it’s great to get together like this,” said Alec Nation, a 17-year-old Sea Scout from Gig Harbor. “We’re usually all spaced out. This gives us a chance to see what everybody else is doing and what the differences are.”
Tom Rogers, the 73-year-old president of the Youth Marine Foundation, might have been having the most fun.
Rogers was thrilled to be showing off the new 1.25-acre Youth Marine Center, which he said makes Tacoma one of the best equipped places in the country for teaching young men and women the fundamentals of seamanship.
“We’ve finally turned the corner,” Rogers said. “It’s taken 50 years, but now we’re finally in a spot where we can really build the progress in Tacoma. We’ve never been able to have a Rendezvous here before.”
In addition to young sailors affiliated with three Tacoma vessels – the 78-foot motor vessel Charles N. Curtis, the 90-foot sailboat Odyssey, and the 38-foot captain’s gig Verite – Sea Scout groups from Port Townsend, Bellevue, Seattle and Edmonds participated in the event.
Besides providing moorage for the Sea Scouts’ boats, the Youth Marine Center is the nucleus for a variety of other sailing and seamanship programs sponsored by schools and youth groups.
Hank Hibbard, who serves with Rogers on the Marine Center Board of Directors, said what the center needs now is more kids.
“You would think that if you have water and boats you’d have to beat them away from this place with sticks,” Hibbard said. “That’s not true today.
“Eighty percent of the kids in Tacoma have never even been on a ferry, for god’s sake.”
“I think the main problem is that people don’t understand this is available,” Hibbard said. “All anybody who wants to be involved has to do is come on down here. Everybody’s welcome.”
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693