The Palo Alto Sea Scouts' days of rebuilding decks and maintaining four ship engines is about to walk the gang plank.
A newer ship supplied by the U.S. Navy will make way for adventures that could include trips to the Sacramento Delta and even on the high seas.
The Sea Scouts will take possession of the 95-foot Olympic Venture on Sunday, April 14, when it arrives from Seattle. Experienced volunteer adult mariners will set sail from the Pacific Northwest city on Wednesday, Joshua Gilliland, a Pacific Skyline Council executive board member said.
The Olympic Venture began its long, complicated journey to Palo Alto in July 2012, when Gregor Harden, a dedicated volunteer, saw the boat was being delisted by the Navy. He and another volunteer, attorney Chris Moropoulos, navigated through the morass of red tape and paperwork to understand federal rules on obtaining surplus, Gilliland said. The paperwork took six months to complete, and in January the boat arrived in Seattle.
The new boat dates to the 1950s. It had a lighter service life than the Scouts' current boat, the Intrepid.
The Intrepid, which is also 95 feet long, "already had a lot of miles on it," Gilliland said. It had a rough service life in Alaska, and it might have been used by the Coast Guard and Navy to retrieve torpedoes, he said.
In contrast, the Olympic Venture served the Coast Guard doing vessel inspections in the Bay Area. The boat was transferred to the Navy in the 1970s, where it was used for personnel transfers from nuclear submarines to ports, Gilliland said.
The Olympic Venture will also be easier to maintain. The older Intrepid had four engines, one of which is irreparable; but the Olympic Venture has two engines, and both are in good shape, he said.
The new boat will enhance the Sea Scouting experience in ways that weren't possible on the Intrepid, he said.
"Our program is supposed to teach skills. If you only replace deck planks, there is no sense of adventure," Gilliland said.
The Sea Scouts can now focus on learning all kinds of sea-faring skills, including mechanics, rowing, navigation, knot-tying. And the Olympic Venture is big enough to travel the Sacramento and San Joaquin deltas and could even make a trip to Catalina Island, he said.
But before the Scouts set off on their big overnight adventures, they'll be making the boat their own. The youths will ready the Olympic Venture with sleeping space for 30 teens, he said.
The boat might also take the name of its predecessor and would be rechristened as the Intrepid. A name change will require a series of old mariners' rituals, however, he said.
"It's bad luck to change a boat's name unless you do a number of things first," Gilliland said.
According to legend, vessels are recorded by name in the Ledger of the Deep, and are known to Poseidon or Neptune, the god of the sea. The boat's old name must be purged by removal of every trace.
Name purging and renaming are carried out during a series of ceremonies. The captain and other officers pour glasses of champagne into the sea, and a another champagne libation is given to the gods of the winds, according to the online boat-safety website BoatSafe.com.
The Sea Scouts will hold an open house on the Olympic Venture at as-yet unspecified date.