On Tuesday, 22 July 2003, seven Sea Scouts from the National Capital Area
Council’s Sea Scout Ship 548, Avenue, MD and from the York-Adams Area
Council’s Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA had an opportunity that very few other
persons on earth have ever enjoyed. The
high-school aged Sea Scouts were invited to conduct the “piping the side”
ceremony for distinguished guests boarding the Presidential Yacht U.S.S. SEQUOIA
and then join the official party for a two-hour cruise down the Potomac River.
The occasion was the presentation of the inaugural Learning for Life
“Russell C. Hill” award by the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of
America, to Dr. Paul L. Vance, Superintendent of the District of Columbia Public
Schools. The keynote speaker for
the occasion was the Honorable Robert H. Pasternack, Assistant Secretary of
Education for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, United States
Department of Education.
NCAC Learning for Life Executive John Maxwell was the
professional Scouter in overall charge of arrangements.
In charge of the Sea Scouts were Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom Rear
Commodore Stephen Alexander and NCAC Council Commodore Douglas Yeckley.
The Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom comprises all Sea Scout ships in the
upper Chesapeake Bay watershed area, which includes the National Capital Area
Council, the Baltimore Area Council, and the York-Adams Area Council, among
Ship 25 was selected for the actual honor of piping the
side because it won the uniform inspection competition at the most recent
Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom Regatta. Ship
548 was selected to represent the host Council, NCAC, and ushered the guests
from their vehicles to the side of the yacht.
The Sea Scouts spent some considerable time prior to the
big day ensuring their uniforms were as perfect as possible.
“After all”, said one youngster, “if I’m not going to look good
to represent Sea Scouting on the President’s yacht, what would I want
to look good for?”
The Sea Scouts arrived at Washington’s Gangplank Marina,
Water Street SW, SEQUOIA’s permanent berth, promptly at 1630.
Ship 548 had traveled several hours from Avenue, MD.
Ship 25 also had a long drive down from York, PA, stopping for a tour of
the United States Navy Museum at the Washington Navy Yard on the way.
After a complete tour of the Presidential Yacht, including the
below-decks staterooms, the main dining room, the enclosed after deck, the
bridge, and the sun deck, the Sea Scouts practiced their routines.
The historic nautical practice of “piping the side” and
parading side boys for the arrival of distinguished visitors to a vessel stems
from the days when senior naval officers visiting a ship of the line had to be
lifted in a basket by a block and tackle (pronounced “take-el”) from their
small boat up onto the deck of the warship.
It was discovered generally that the more senior the officer, the heavier
he was, and hence more sideboys were needed to haul him onboard.
Today, therefore, some mere ship captains rate two side boys, heads of
state rate eight side boys, and everyone else falls somewhere in between based
on a time-honored protocol chart. For
this occasion, it was determined that an Assistant Secretary of Education rated
four side boys.
Ship 25’s acting Boatswain, Apprentice Sea Scout Amanda
Klinedinst, commenced piping the moment each dignitary began to pass through the
corridor of side boys, and she continued the pipe call until the dignitary was
onboard the yacht. The sideboys
saluted at the commencement of the pipe call, and held their salute until the
pipe call was completed. The Ship
25 sideboys were Recruit Sea Scouts Greg Timmons (also an Eagle Scout), Carl
Chindblom, Phil Accardo, and Alexander Miller.
The Ship 548 ushers were Sea Scout Recruit Michael Hearth and Sea Scout
Recruit Julia Yeckley.
Once all the official guests were onboard, everyone
assembled on the sun deck at 1800. Arthur
Curry, Executive Director for Career and Technical Education, District of
Columbia Public Schools, acted as Master of Ceremonies.
Explorer Amanda Li from NCAC Explorer Post 1010 led the Pledge of
Allegiance. Antonie Gayle,
Associate Pastor of Abundant Life Community Church, gave the invocation.
At this point, the official party repaired to the dining
room for a gourmet buffet dinner as SEQUOIA backed out of her berth and
proceeded gracefully down the Potomac. The
Sea Scouts enjoyed the view from the sun deck and ate from “gourmet” box
lunches. “I’d live on bread and
water, or even do without, to be able to say I cruised down the Potomac on the
Presidential Yacht,” said George Kain, Skipper of Sea Scout Ship 25.
The other Sea Scout guests, der PeLiKan Coordinator Steven
Nichols, Ship 25 Committee Member Beverly Timmons, and Andreas Follner, an
exchange student from Germany visiting with Sea Scout Alex Miller, all echoed
While the Sea Scouts enjoyed the view, the official party
concluded their buffet and proceeded with the evening program.
Arthur Curry gave words of welcome.
Dinner sponsors were recognized and thanked by Ed Feddeman, Space and
Aeronautics Subcommittee, U.S. House of Representatives and Vice President,
Learning for Life, National Capital Area Council Executive Board.
Assistant Secretary of Education Robert Pasternack gave the keynote
address. Arthur Curry then
presented the “Russell C. Hill” award to Dr. Vance.
Dr. Vance then expressed his thanks, and the ceremony concluded.
SEQUOIA has served U.S. Presidents from Hoover to Bush as the presidential
yacht. Although sold by the U.S.
Government in 1977 during the Carter administration as an “economy measure”,
the 104 foot long 1925 Trumpy-designed Mathis-built SEQUOIA continues to be
available for charter for official use. Current
owner Eagle Scout and NCAC Executive Board Member Gary Silversmith maintains the
vessel in pristine condition ready to continue to serve her country at a
moment’s notice. Recent guests
onboard have included President Clinton (who watched one of the Gore-Bush
debates in the main saloon), former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (who sang
Russian folk songs with the bartender), and Senator Edward Kennedy and family
(who remembered being onboard for President John F. Kennedy’s last birthday
party in 1963).
President Herbert Hoover cruised to Florida on SEQUOIA in
1932. President Franklin Roosevelt
had an elevator installed so he could move unassisted from the presidential
bedroom on the second deck to the dining room on the main deck.
A true sailor and former Secretary of the Navy, he enjoyed fishing from
the after deck, planned wartime strategy onboard with British Prime Minister
Winston Churchill, and planned his post-D-Day address to the nation while
circling in the Potomac off Mt. Vernon. President
Truman, not a sailor, gouged the dining room table in a fit of anger after
losing a poker game. He also came
to the final decision to drop the atomic bomb to end World War II while onboard
SEQUOIA. President Eisenhower, also
more a soldier than a sailor, used the yacht only occasionally. President Kennedy, a decorated Navy combat veteran and
yachtsman, and Mrs. Kennedy, used SEQUOIA frequently as a place where they could
escape the public eye and let their children John and Caroline run free.
President Lyndon Johnson had the Roosevelt elevator replaced with a wet
bar, had the door knob to the presidential state room enlarged to
“Texas-sized” proportions, and had the floor in the presidential shower
lowered three inches to accommodate his 6’ 3” height.
When not remodeling the yacht, Johnson actively lobbied senators and
congressmen to pass his Great Society programs. President Nixon was on board 88
times. He negotiated the nuclear
arms reduction treaty with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev on the forward sun
deck at a small round table. He
also announced to his family his intention to resign the presidency while
cruising with them in SEQUOIA. President
Ford, also a former naval officer, held cabinet meetings in SEQUOIA while she
was tied up at the Washington Navy Yard. His
children, Susan and Steven Ford, used the yacht frequently.
It was another former Naval Officer, an Annapolis graduate, Jimmy Carter,
who ordered SEQUOIA sold in 1977 to demonstrate his desire for economy in
Other heads of state who have enjoyed SEQUOIA cruises
include Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, The Emperor and Empress
of Japan, the Prime Minister of Canada, and the Premier of China.
To this long and only partial list of people who have been entertained on
the President’s Yacht can now be added 5 Sea Scouts from York, PA and 2 Sea
Scouts from Avenue, MD. This all
goes to prove the slogan, “Sea Scouts HAVE MORE FUN!”
George Hay Kain, III
Skipper, SSS YORKSHIRE – Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA
A single bed in one of the two guest cabins aboard SEQUOIA.
The double bed in the president's stateroom.
Information about the president's stateroom.
The after deck where Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt liked
The forward bulkhead of the enclosed after deck with ladder leading to the sun
deck and the door leading to the main dining room.
Alex, Amanda, and Commodore Yeckley.
The Commodore "puts out the word" to the assembled Sea Scouts on how
the event is to be handled.
The shaded area at the forward end of the sun deck forward of the stack.
Carl, Greg, and Amanda relax by the table on the sun deck where President Nixon
and Soviet Premier Brezhnev negotiated the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty on
June 19, 1973.
Sea Scouts relax on the yacht's sun deck.
The SSS YORKSHIRE - Ship 25 Contingent: Sea Scout Recruit Carl Chindblom,
Apprentice Amanda Klinedinst, Recruit Eagle Scout Greg Timmons, Recruits Alex
Miller and Phil Accardo, and Skipper George Kain.
The SSS SEA EAGLE - Ship 548 Contingent: Sea Scout Recruit Michael Hearth,
Skipper Yeckley, and Sea Scout Recruit Julia Yeckley.
Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom der PeLiKan Coordinator Steve Nichols and
Chesapeake NCAC Squadron Commodore Doug Yeckley relax beside SEQUOIA's
stack. This is the same white stack President Johnson used as a movie
screen to watch movies while cruising in SEQUOIA.
SEQUOIA's pilot house.
Ship 25 Committee member Beverly Yohe relaxes on the sun deck of the
Presidential Yacht SEQUOIA. ALTERNATE CAPTION: Presidential Secretary
Rosemary Woods keeps in touch with the White House while the President
entertains congressional leaders in the cabin below.
Skipper Kain puts the honor guard through its paces in a pre-arrival rehearsal.
SHOW TIME: The dignitaries arrive, including tonight's honoree Dr. Paul L.
Vance, Superintendent of the District of Columbia Public Schools, and keynote
speaker the Honorable Robert H. Pasternack, Assistant Secretary of Education for
Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, United States Department of
Education. Ship 25's acting Boatswain
Amanda pipes the side as sideboys Greg, Carl, Alex, and Phil salute.
The Captain of the SEQUOIA poses beside the jackstaff.
NCAC Squadron Commodore Doug Yeckley, Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom Rear
Commodore Stephen Alexander, and Wardroom der PeLiKan Coordinator Steve
Nichols confer on future great program ideas for Chesapeake Sea Scouts.
ALTERNATE CAPTION: Vice Admiral Zinovii Petrovich
ROZHDESTVENSKII confers with his staff aboard the Russian battleship Kniaz'
Suvorov immediately prior to the battle of Tushima.
After our cruise on SEQUOIA was complete, we decided to do a quick
"Washington By Night" tour to show Alex's guest from Germany, Andreas
Follner, what our nation's capitol looked like. We parked beside the
Lincoln memorial and reverently viewed same plus the Korean and Viet Nam War
For the boys in the crew, probably a highlight even more exciting than the
SEQUOIA cruise was having bevies of young girls beg to have their pictures taken
with our crew. About 400 young women were touring the Lincoln Memorial
just as we arrived, so our timing was perfect. No fewer than ten such
requests were made and gladly honored. I had told our boys many times
that, "Women go for a guy in uniform." Whether or not the
fellows believed me before, they certainly believe me now!