Palo Alto Sea Scouts get new Navy boat | News | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Sea Scouts get new Navy boat

Decommissioned 95-foot boat will set sail for adventures around the bay and sea

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

The Sea Scouts will hold an open house on the Olympic Venture at as-yet unspecified date.

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Like this comment
Posted by PBSurfer
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Go Intrepid! Ship 51 forever....

Like this comment
Posted by some guy
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I didn't know Palo Alto had a marina anymore.

Like this comment
Posted by Jan
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:25 am

It would be good to give the "home" of the Sea Scouts now. Is it Redwood City? Thanks!!

Like this comment
Posted by Martha Bowden
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 10, 2013 at 11:10 am

The Sea Scouts have 4 "Ships" which operate out of Redwood City and 1 "Ship" out of Sierra Pt./Brisbane. Each crew is called a "Ship" and each Ship has multiple boats. Two of the Ships are Palo Alto based and 2 are Redwood City based--that means that the crews are organized in Palo Alto or Redwood City even though all the boats are docked in Redwood City.

2 people like this
Posted by Aaron
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I was stationed on the Olympic Venture (PTB-951) for three years. Sad to see her be retired from the Navy, but glad she will be used for a good purpose.

2 people like this
Posted by Chris M
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

I was on the Venture with Aaron. I am glad she has a good home.

Like this comment
Posted by Gordon Hansen
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2015 at 1:27 pm

I was stationed on this cutter when it's Hull # was 95310 its name was the Coast Guard cutter cape wash I was on it from 1968 to 1970 it was stationed in Monterey California and moral may California if you are interested and would like to know some of the heraldic action that this cutter has seen both in law enforcement and search and rescue I can tell you many stories including saving the lives of high school students off a fishing vessel in Morro Bay California my e-mail is I am very excited to see she is going to still be in service as I believe that it was my experience in the United States Coast Guard under the command of Capt. Ray Riutta retired vice admiral of the US Coast Guard help to make me the man that I am today. I now live in San Luis Obispo California.

2 people like this
Posted by Patrick Gabriel
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 9, 2015 at 2:40 pm

I live in Santa Rosa, CA I was a crew member on board the Olympic venture station Subbase Bangor, WA. Would love to see this boat which I spent a lot of my youth on!

2 people like this
Posted by Brian Leighton
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 19, 2016 at 7:42 pm

I was stationed on PTB951 Olympic Venture formerly Cape Wash.
I was on it when we ran the last of the days on her 4 Cummins 1486 and began stripping them out to make way for 2 Cummins 1710 as we had procured the last of the head gaskets for the 1486's
I'm glad it has an after life!

2 people like this
Posted by David Smith
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2016 at 12:13 am

I was the Ship Superintendent of the Venture PTB 951 at Subase Bangor soon after she was acquired from the Coast Guard. I spent many long hours on her during her refit and modernization, overhaul of all four main engines, both sailing clutches, addition of hull rubber, sonar, and the fabrication of her hydraulic brow. I would love to see her again.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Jordan Middle School

on Jun 5, 2017 at 9:05 pm

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