Local sea scouts compete, place in their first Port Huron to Mackinac

Photo courtesy of Tim Branson Sea Scouts from St. Sebastian Church Troop 1148 Becky Washburn (front row left), Sara Mazurek, Caitlin Parton, Rachel Washburn, Bill Tilley (back row left), Caleb Parton, Skipper and Advisor Tim Branson, and Billy Stimson, competed in their first 2018 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race July 14 to 17.

Photo courtesy of Tim Branson
Sea Scouts from St. Sebastian Church Troop 1148 Becky Washburn (front row left), Sara Mazurek, Caitlin Parton, Rachel Washburn, Bill Tilley (back row left), Caleb Parton, Skipper and Advisor Tim Branson, and Billy Stimson, competed in their first 2018 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race July 14 to 17.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Four days of light wind, rain storms and lack of sleep weren’t enough to rattle the Sea Scouts from St. Sebastian Church Troop 1148 as they completed the 2018 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race July 17.

The crew on board the boat — the Sojourner — had five Sea Scouts ranging from 16 to 20 years old and three adults. The Scouts were Caleb Parton, Sara Mazurek, Caitlin Parton, Rachel Washburn and Billy Stimson while the adults were Troop Skipper and Advisor Tim Branson, Becky Washburn and Bill Tilley.

Troop 1148 — representing the Edison Boat Club — started the race on July 14 in the evening and were finished at 6 p.m. July 17. Some boats were still on the water on the afternoon of July 17 as the awards ceremony began.

The troop competed in a 1979 Seidelmann 299 in the race’s Shore Course Fleet under Class O based on their performance rating. The boat was the last finisher — the “pickle boat” — although it finished in 11th place in their class out of 14 boats after the race handicap system was applied.

A system is used to determine the winners in each class.

“I’m so proud of them, that they finished what they started,” race Chairman Gary Shoemaker said of the Sea Scouts.

“We had a great crew on board who had to deal with a grueling challenge,” Branson said. “There was no wind the first three days and the group did a wonderful job to maintain forward momentum and the boat’s speed.”

Branson, Caleb Parton, Caitlin Parton and Mazurek mentioned the storm that hit the waters on the night of July 16 as one of the biggest challenges during the race. The other challenges were the lack of wind, and a change in crew rotation schedules set as four hours off and four hours on.

“I thought the crew handled the storm well because no one looked frustrated or like they wanted to stop,” Branson said. “It was the first time they encountered the darkness, rain, wind and their teamwork was great.”

Caleb Parton said he was impressed with how the Scouts handled he race.

“All the work we did led up to this race and we stayed with the fleet most of the time and had the ability to finish the race when other boats dropped out,” he said.

A total of 42 boats dropped out, according to the race website. Some in the first 24 hours, having run out of food, water and patience in the light winds.

“The weather was not cooperative,” he said, “but we stayed focused on our end destination.”

Caitlin Parton echoed the same message in her impression of how the group did.

“We did really good for what we had to deal with,” she said. “There was extreme highs and extreme lows with the weather, but even with lack of sleep we held it together and no one snapped. I am very proud of everyone.”

Mazurek said she was proud of her fellow Scouts and that she had a lot of fun during the race.

“It’s always good to have a mix of having fun and seriousness during a race,” she said. “I’m happy we were able to compete in the race and we worked well together as a unit.”

Preparation for the group began three years ago after their boat was donated to them by Richard King from the North Star Sail Club in 2015. They spent that time and $11,000 getting their boat in racing condition.

The boat was not the only thing that went through training before the big race, 16 Sea Scouts from the troop took a skipper card class and also participated in local races as part of their preparation.

“During the class, the Scouts learned terminology, points of sail, how to sail and more,” Branson said. “Their training had to be signed off three different times by three different skippers and then the Scouts took a 100-question test. We picked our five crew members based on their ability and how comfortable they were on the boat.”
The Sea Scouts also had to meet the safety requirements of the race, which were man-overboard drills and sailing in other races, including an overnight race.

For more information about the Sea Scouts Troop 1148 go to www.crew1148.org.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)