Summer days for a silver bar


Can you smell it? It’s that time of year again, Summer Cruise! That time of year where we dust off the water toys, check the skis and wake boards, and grab the small boats. We load them up for a period of time witch we all wish was longer and come back with a wicked sunburn. This is the perfect time to run the Small Boat Handler Bar program.

As no doubt, you have seen the Small Boat Handler in the Sea Scout Manual as you have flicked by. Little did you know how much benefit it can be to your program. The SBH program can be extremely useful in Summer Cruise applications, as well as, regular cruising or day-to-day operations. For our Scouts, the SBH bar is one of the most anticipated parts of the year.

Going through proper engine start up and safety is a critical portion of the course.

Once completed, the Scout is allowed to prepare a small boat for getting underway; while at all times wearing a life jacket and with buddies, take a small boat with an outboard engine no grater then 25hp beyond the sight of adults. All scouts look forward to this bestowment of trust by the adults.

Ok, so how do run said course? Well, I highly recommend doing this during a summer cruise as this provides the maxim training time that you can provide. All SBH bar candidates have their apprentice, before starting coursework. This allows for a little bit of know how on Sea Scouts and a little nautical knowledge. The course starts with a half day class. This is like a 101 class, break everything down to basics. Topics include: how to build an inflatable boat; parts on an outboard; legal and BSA requirements; maintenance, basic nav. rules, ect….  The rest of the Course work comes from hands on training. Get them on that boat, and have them do everything!

Scouts prepare to cast off for some great training.

I find the hands on training the most important part. The light bulb truly clicks for most at this stage. Although, everyone learns at a different pace, so having as much practice time is necessary. When they feel they are ready, the scout comes and asks to be tested. The test starts with five questions, one each of the following topics: Rules of the Road, Engines, Boats, Maintenance, and Trailers. Then the Scout gets in the small boat and gets graded on: completing a verbal safety checklist, getting underway, anchoring, a M.O.B. drill, left and right turns, reversing, docking, communication to crew, safety, and finally calmness and steadiness. After completing all this, they have earned their SBH Bar.

For a lot of our Scouts this is a great accomplishment between rank, it builds on what they are learning in rank, and they feel like they have earned their independence. Most importantly if gives them a sense of what teaching is like, because first and foremost, SBH, is instructed by scouts who have completed the SBH bar. Youth teaching youth is a very critical step. Although, all supervised by an adult who can step in where guidance is needed, the youth learn and pay attention more to their peers. They know what their Shipmates are going through, and can give them advice on how they themselves learned the topic.

The practical evaluation is a critical, but fun part of the course.

I hope this Summer Cruise you try the SBH bar program. I must emphasize that what works for us, doesn’t necessarily work for every program.  But trust me SBH is worth it! Work Small Boat to fit your Ship and your Summer Cruise. I wish you all Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Ken Shupe

Mate, S.S.S. Albatross


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