Ship's Activities - Michigan
Thu, 3 Apr 1997 05:05:36 -0500 (EST)
I just returned from a business trip to Florida. Upon my return I
noticed a lengthy flurry of controversy and debate over uniforms that
manifested itself in countless postings to my incomming mail. I see that
Free Speech is alive and well in the United States of America. I did observe
one comment from a gentleman in Australia begging for some content about ship
activities. To you sir, I salute, and hereby dedicate this posting.
While in Florida, I was evaluating two potential new suppliers. They
both told me that with the decline in Federal spending on military contracts
that they were moving to refocus their sales efforts to the private sector of
the economy for their long term corporate survival. This reinforced what I
have long felt has been a growing trend and has a direct impact on the Sea
Exploring movement as well.
Uniforms change over time, procedures change over time, technology
changes over time. Why, I've even heard a rumor that some radical Sea
Explorer leaders communicate via the computer internet and E-mail rather than
rely on the tried and true semiphore signalling system or Morse code.
They have closed the military base in Gwinn, Michigan (upper penninsula)
and they have closed the base at Oscoda, Michigan (lower penninsula). They
have closed the Navy Reserve facility in Flint, Michigan. The closest ones
remaining are in Saginaw and Detroit. The only base left is Sefridge near
All is not lost. Michigan has more boat registrations than any other
state in the union, over 1 million. The private sector for boating is
growing. Thus, our ship has sheduled activities that focus on current
trends in navigation and commerce.
We want to firmly establish our rich nautical history, so we will be
visiting the Dossin Museum on Belle Isle. to learn about the history of Great
Lakes shipping. We have also adopted a Lighthouse at Grand Sable Point near
Ludington, and will be working with the local historical association to
conduct service projects at the site. We will be visiting the U.S.S.
Silversides, a WWII submarine at Muskegon, MI. We are also planning a summer
trip to Michigan's upper penninsula to visit the locks at Sault Ste. Marie
and the Great Lakes freighter "Valley Camp" now a floating museum with a
special display on the "Edmond Fitzgerald" a famous ship that sank in Lake
Superior during a November storm. There is also an excellent nautical museum
in Marquette, Michigan that contains a lot of Great Lakes history.
The new focus of our ship is on current and future maritime careers. We
will be visiting the Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Michigan where the
deck officers are trained for all the Great Lakes freighters. I am currently
negotiating with the Public Relations Deprtment of Ford Motor Company to
arrange a tour of one of the ore freighters that delivers taconite (iron ore
pellets) to the River Rouge Plant near Dearborn. We will also be
participating in a program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor at the
Oceanography Laboratory (U of M operates a research vessel on the Great
Lakes). We have guest speakers scheduled to attend ship meetings from the
Coast Guard Auxilliary, the United States Naval Recruitment Command, the
United States Marine Corps, the Genesee County Sheriff's Department - aquatic
division, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan
Maritime Historical Society.
During the warmer summer months, our ship spends as much time on the
water as possible. We participated in BSA Snorkeling at an indoor pool
during February, so we want to get in some snorkeling time this summer.
During the weekdays, we will be sailing at the Lake Fenton Sail Club. New
members will be learning the basics on smaller craft and the more experienced
sailors will be participating as crew members on races conducted Wednesday
evenings and Sunday afternoons. Weekends are for sailing on board our First
Mate's 34 foot Columbia. Also, the group has access to charter the 65 foot
ketch Prevailing Winds II for 1 or 2 week cruises on Lake Huron.
A big part of the nautical world in Michigan is the commercial side. We
visited the Detroit boat show, we plan to visit and talk with the management
of 4 major marinas this spring (East Tawas, Bay City, Presque Isle, and
Muskegon). We also have a guest speaker that started his own business as an
outboard motor repairman, and a lady that opened a bait shop that thrived
after being laid off from her previous employment for 25 years.
Recruitment is a major function of the ship. We use the smaller
sailboats in summer festival parades to attract new members. We conduct
opening flag ceremonies at Cub Scout Blue and Gold dinners. My son will be
recieveing his Eagle Scout Award this year and is looking for Sea Explorer
Ceremonies to add even more interest in the program.
No we don't talk like 19th century privateers, I haven't keel-hauled a
single youth, nor hung an insubordinate 2nd mate from a yardarm. Despite all
temtation, I have not used the cat-o-nine-tails across the back of my
Did I mention uniforms? No, I guess not. Sorry! Maybe next time. I
have a ship to run and a very full program to implement, gotta go now.
Kevin R. Wade - Skipper
Sea Explorer Ship #32 "Atlantis"