Byline: Taylor Hill
DANA POINT — Dana Point’s Mariners Sea Scouting group will award three girls the rank of Quartermaster, the highest achievement level in the program.
Sea Scouts, affiliated with Boy Scouts Venturing Division, is a co-ed program for high school students where sailing, racing and other maritime activities are taught.
The Quartermaster rank is only awarded to 10 recipients nationwide, and it takes three to four years to complete.
Liz Fletcher of Laguna Beach, Sarah Wyman of San Clemente resident and Jackie Wetzel of Laguna Niguel are in the final stages of the program, completing or working on their final project — often considered the hardest part of the program.
The Quartermaster rank is comparable to the Eagle rank in Boy Scouting. It requires a depth of knowledge about maritime activities, and an ability to teach the material to younger Sea Scouts as well.
“The program really is a test of leadership, because once you learn all of this stuff, it becomes your job within the program to teach it,” Fletcher said.
“Liz, Jackie and Sarah are such a tremendous example to their peers,” said Jim “Skip” Wehan, a leader at Mariners Sea Scouts in Dana Point. “A Quartermaster is not only a very qualified seaman, but is also a leader among their peers. Very few attain this rank, and having three local young women achieve this designation in one year is quite remarkable.”
For their projects, Wyman recently completed construction of new cello racks for the music department at San Clemente High School, and Wetzel constructed shelving and a storage unit to better organize the costume room at Dana Hills High School.
On March 4, Fletcher will run a regatta in memory of fellow Sea Scout and friend Jeff Adam, who died last June of meningitis. He was 22.
Adam, a graduate of Dana Hills High School, was known throughout the Dana Point sailing community, often entering local races and crewing on long-distance sailing trips. Before his passing, Adam had attempted to hold a regatta as part of his Quartermaster project, but the idea didn’t get past Sea Scout leaders.
According to Fletcher, the projects usually involve creating “something tangible,” benefitting a school, a community center or a church, so when she decided to try to get the regatta idea through, she wasn’t certain of the outcome.
“When I took it on, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to fit it into the Quartermaster requirements, but that didn’t really worry me; I knew I was going to do it anyway,” Fletcher said. “I was going to do it for everyone in the community; for Jeff’s family, for me and for everyone who’s still missing Jeff.”
As Adam was a Sea Scout, the leaders were enthusiastic about accepting the regatta for Fletcher’s final project, and she has been hard at work preparing and organizing the big event.
A Facebook page has been set up for the regatta, and more than 100 people have already expressed their intent to participate. Most races are expected to take place in the harbor, in Sabot, Laser and 420 classes.
Fletcher scheduled the event to coincide with Dana Point’s Festival of Whales celebration, to get as many people involved with the regatta as possible.
“Soon after Jeff died, we had a sail-out for him — and I’ve never seen more boats on the water in Dana Point than at that time,” Fletcher said. She added that Adam was adept at bringing people together, regardless of their sailing affiliations or what club they belonged to.
“We have three main groups in Dana Point: the Sea Scouts, Dana Point Yacht Club and Dana West Yacht Club. And Jeff had always been involved in all,” Fletcher said. “He always wanted to see people together, and he wanted everyone to be having a good time. My goal is to have as many people out on the water having fun in memory of Jeff as possible.”
New and prospective members and parents are invited to attend an informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 to learn more about the Mariners Sea Scout program. Youths ages 14-18 can join Mariners, and those ages 12-13 can join Mariners Junior.
For information on the regatta, visit facebook.com and search for “Jeff Adam Memorial Regatta.” For more information on Mariners Sea Scouts Dana Point, visit mariners936.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.