Back when I was in high school we were required to take what today would probably be termed “life skill” classes. The girls took “Home Ec.” classes where they learned cooking and sewing. Some of the girls also took secretarial classes where they learned typing and shorthand.
Boys never took those courses though they should have been required to take typing because there was a lot of that to be done when they went away to college. No, instead we took “shop” classes where we were supposed to learn how to use tools and how to build things.
I suppose in most schools young boys learned how to build bird houses.
And if they were really skilled and adventurous they might have tried to tackle something like this…
But we who went to Orleans High School, later to become Nauset Regional High School in my senior year, weren’t content to build bird houses. Instead, we built THIS…
The Sea Explorer Ship Nauset, a 42-foot ketch.
The seed of the idea was germinated in 1954 when the Sea Scouts rowed two boats from Orleans to Nantucket. It was documented by Life Magazine in their May 17th issue:
Supposedly when interviewed about their exploit one of the crew members said the next time they came to Nantucket they wanted to sail there.
Thanks to my brother Jeff for sending me to this story in an old issue of Boy’s Life Magazine from July 1961. The story starts on Page 15 and is continued on Page 46.
Not only did I help build the boat but I was, of course, at the launching and on the maiden voyage. But that wasn’t the last I saw of the valiant SES Nauset. In the fall of 1987 while taking the Christiana, a 47-foot Grebe motor yacht from Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod, down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I would wrap up the restoration job I’d undertaken on her, I was wending my way through the Waccamaw cypress swamp on the Intracoastal Waterway north of Charleston, SC, when I came upon a sailboat headed in the same direction. Her masts were on deck and she was being pushed along by an outboard motor attached to its transom on a bracket. As I drew up astern I saw the name board that read, SES Nauset. I pulled up alongside and throttled back to keep pace with the old lady and said to the young man at the tiller, “You might not believe this, but I helped build your boat.”
She was long past her prime and you could practically smell the rot in her as cruised side by side in what I consider to be one of the most beautiful spots on the whole ICW for ten minutes or so. The young man had big plans of restoring her and going off on grand adventures. But he was simply another of the tens of thousands of dreamers who are living proof that nearly everyone has a dream that won’t pan out. I wished him well, nevertheless and continued on my way. That’s the last I ever saw or heard of the boat again.
The Sea Explorer group is still thriving and has been integrated with the girl’s group known as Mariners back when I was a kid, but you wouldn’t expect any less from kids whose town is only 4-1/2 miles of sand between the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay.