After lying at moorage on Float 21 at the Westport Marina for the past several years, the boat formerly used by Grays Harbor Sea Scouts as an outdoor classroom for seamanship was finally scrapped Jan. 11.
The first Grays Harbor Sea Scouts Ship (the term used for a seagoing Boy Scout troop) formed in 2009, with the recruitment of former 20-year Navy submariner and then-Hoquiam High School teacher Stan Severson as Ship Leader. The following year, the group acquired a 72-foot former World War II-era U.S. Navy torpedo retriever in poor condition that had sat idle at the Westport Marina for more than a year.
The boat formerly belonged to Jimmy Smith of History Channel’s “Ax Men” fame. Smith intended to use the boat for submerged log retrievals on Grays Harbor rivers. That plan was squelched after his first Grays Harbor expedition was aired on television and observed by someone at the state Department of Natural Resources. DNR doesn’t allow the old river logs, believed to anchor sediment and proved fish habitat, to be disturbed.
Smith subsequently was charged with illegally harvesting the timber, gave up the effort and tied his boat up at the Westport Marina.
Without funds to repair the old girl and no longer having a use for her services, Smith advertised the boat as a free give-away. Severson saw the “For Sale” sign on the craft, contacted Smith and the logger agreed to transfer the its title to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Grays Harbor Sea Scouts.
While the boat, renamed Retriever by the scouts, offered some great learning opportunities for the dozen or so youth that worked hard to get it into shape, the old wooden craft came with so many liabilities related to repair and insurance costs, it became obvious that it was never going to become seaworthy.
By agreement with the Port of Grays Harbor, the Retriever was declared a derelict, and BSA and the Port of Grays Harbor came to an agreement regarding its disposal. Over the next couple of years, membership in the group dwindled.
Two new tugs
Late in 2014, Grays Harbor businessman Tim Quigg read one of Severson’s posts on the Sea Scouts Facebook page he managed that reviewed the history of the struggling organization.
Quigg’s strong interest in Grays Harbor’s maritime history and in promoting positive youth activities led him to take the helm in a big way to help out. In 2015, he purchased two vintage tugboats that were built in the 1920s and 1930s for the Grays Harbor Sea Scouts program.
The small river tugs — the A-1 and the R.A. MacDonald — spent months at the Sea Scouts dock in Tacoma undergoing mechanical updates and repairs, readying them for their voyage by barge to Aberdeen in mid-July of 2015 for continued work here.
The A-1, renamed Anne by Quigg, is now set up in a Quigg Bros Inc. workshop building in Aberdeen, awaiting further work by future Sea Scouts. The R.A. MacDonald, renamed Lisa, and now a museum-quality tug, will be home-ported in the Westport Marina for use by the scouts.
By early November of 2015, Quigg, along with a strong core of friends and relatives he recruited that share the same interests, officially formed the new Grays Harbor Sea Scouts Ship Committee that oversees the revitalized GH Sea Scout program.
The GH Sea Scout Ship is based out of the Westport Maritime Museum’s McCausland Hall, with organization sponsorship provided by the Westport South Beach Historical Society.