Feb 082012
 

The ‘Emerald Sea’ heads upriver (photo courtesy of Barbara Smith)

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 1, 2012 –

 By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

The local chapter of the Sea Scouts believes it has found its new flagship vessel.
The young mariners have shuffled around some of their donations, unloaded a “Forrest Gump”-style shrimp trawler, and took possession of a 95-foot, former Alaskan crab boat more along the lines of the TV show “Deadliest Catch.”

The crab boat “Emerald Sea” had been anchored in Sausalito for several years, disused. The Sea Scouts brought her home to their headquarters in West Sacramento recently on a leisurely voyage.

“Just two weeks ago, she cruised up river on her own power from Sausalito,” said Nate Eckler, “skipper” of the Sea Scout troop. “It was roughly a 14-hour trip – we were just taking it slow.”

The boat – soon to be renamed “Neptune,” in honor of the chapter’s identity – is now docked near the old Cemex cement plant towers, along South River Road at 15th Street. Nearby both  in the water and sitting on blocks above are several other boats in various states of repair, belonging to the Scouts.

Some of the Sea Scouts on hand for a work crew Sunday gather in the bow of the boat. Behind are the Pioneer bridge and downtown Sacramento. Pictured are (standing) Boatswain Ian O’Bryan; Steven Hobbs; Daniel Thweatt; Sam Hobbs; Skipper Nate Eckler; Jr. Officer Robert Turner; and (kneeling) Regatta Cox’n Ryan DeWeese and Storekeeper Kitty Dawson (News-Ledger photo)

The West Sacramento site provides storage and a work area for the group’s many projects.

“We worked out a deal with a few different entities” to get use of the property, Eckler explained. “This was the old Cemex cement plant. We got permission from them to use it, but they had also assigned it to the city, and we also had to get permission from the city. Also, at the front of the property is the utility yard for Ramos Oil. Ramos Oil and Bill Ramos have been a huge supporter of our projects, so they agreed, too. The docks were a donation from the Sacramento Yacht Club.”

The old cement plant has vacated the site, relocating to a new location at the Port of West Sacramento.

Just astern of the Emerald Sea lies a vintage Coast Guard surf rescue boat, a bullet-shaped vessel of 23-foot in length that’s capable of righting itself if capsized. On blocks above them is a “motor whaleboat” that the group plans to fix up and then suspend above deck on the Emerald Sea, to be lowered when necessary to serve as a “shore boat” or tender for the bigger vessel.

That’s Nate Eckler, tucked behind the 850-horsepower engine. The 95-foot vessel was built in 1966 in Wisconsin (News-Ledger photo)

Some of the crab boat’s fittings and equipment won’t be needed by the Sea Scouts, since they don’t plan on doing any large-scale crabbing. The excess equipment will be sold off, when possible, to help pay for modifications and repairs.

“We’ll take the old holds – the ‘live well’ for the crabs – and convert them into bunk areas for the crew,” said Eckler. The old “live well” is underneath the deck.

Even now, though, the boat has bunk space for eight crew, a couple of single cabins, a laundry room and galley area. It has a single 850 horsepower Caterpillar diesel engine, a pair of 60 kilowatt generators, and ample systems for navigation in the wheelhouse – all of which offer ample opportunities to train young people in the fine arts of seamanship, mechanics and electronics.

“There are a lot of individual systems on board,” said Eckler, “and we need to learn them and create repeatable procedures for the kids to use each one.”

“(The kids) definitely get a lot of hands-on mechanical work. They had to a lot of engine work. We went in there and pulled the valve covers off. . . they’re also learning welding and woodworking.”

Currently, there are about 12-14 “active” members in the group, including one girl among the boys. The Sea Scouts range in age from about 13 to 21. When the News-Ledger visited on Sunday, a handful of the youths were working under supervision, hauling equipment back and forth as they start to refit the Emerald Sea.

Eckler believes the boat has the potential to be a great flagship for this little West Sac navy.

“It’s going to be a training boat, to be cruised around here or on the Delta and Bay – even offshore, eventually. The kids will be operating it with adults providing oversight.”

The group also spends time on sailboats, with a summer sailing program at the Port.

Anyone interested in the Sea Scouts can find them at www. http://seascouts.-youthmaritime.com/

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Steve Marschke

Steve Marschke