U.S.S. SEQUOIA - The Presidential Yacht

Ship 25 "Pipes the Side" for distinguished visitors, then cruises the Potomac.

Tuesday, 22 July 2003

Updated 25 July 2003 14:30

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DCP_3362.JPG (683426 bytes)  On Tuesday, 22 July 2003, seven Sea Scouts from the National Capital Area Council’s Sea Scout Ship 548, Avenue, MD and from the York-Adams Area Council’s Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA had an opportunity that very few other persons on earth have ever enjoyed.  The high-school aged Sea Scouts were invited to conduct the “piping the side” ceremony for distinguished guests boarding the Presidential Yacht U.S.S. SEQUOIA and then join the official party for a two-hour cruise down the Potomac River.  The occasion was the presentation of the inaugural Learning for Life “Russell C. Hill” award by the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, to Dr. Paul L. Vance, Superintendent of the District of Columbia Public Schools.  The keynote speaker for the occasion was the Honorable Robert H. Pasternack, Assistant Secretary of Education for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, United States Department of Education. 

NCAC Learning for Life Executive John Maxwell was the professional Scouter in overall charge of arrangements.  In charge of the Sea Scouts were Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom Rear Commodore Stephen Alexander and NCAC Council Commodore Douglas Yeckley.  The Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom comprises all Sea Scout ships in the upper Chesapeake Bay watershed area, which includes the National Capital Area Council, the Baltimore Area Council, and the York-Adams Area Council, among others.

Ship 25 was selected for the actual honor of piping the side because it won the uniform inspection competition at the most recent Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom Regatta.  Ship 548 was selected to represent the host Council, NCAC, and ushered the guests from their vehicles to the side of the yacht.

The Sea Scouts spent some considerable time prior to the big day ensuring their uniforms were as perfect as possible.  “After all”, said one youngster, “if I’m not going to look good to represent Sea Scouting on the President’s yacht, what would I want to look good for?”

The Sea Scouts arrived at Washington’s Gangplank Marina, Water Street SW, SEQUOIA’s permanent berth, promptly at 1630.  Ship 548 had traveled several hours from Avenue, MD.  Ship 25 also had a long drive down from York, PA, stopping for a tour of the United States Navy Museum at the Washington Navy Yard on the way.  After a complete tour of the Presidential Yacht, including the below-decks staterooms, the main dining room, the enclosed after deck, the bridge, and the sun deck, the Sea Scouts practiced their routines.

The historic nautical practice of “piping the side” and parading side boys for the arrival of distinguished visitors to a vessel stems from the days when senior naval officers visiting a ship of the line had to be lifted in a basket by a block and tackle (pronounced “take-el”) from their small boat up onto the deck of the warship.  It was discovered generally that the more senior the officer, the heavier he was, and hence more sideboys were needed to haul him onboard.  Today, therefore, some mere ship captains rate two side boys, heads of state rate eight side boys, and everyone else falls somewhere in between based on a time-honored protocol chart.  For this occasion, it was determined that an Assistant Secretary of Education rated four side boys. 

Ship 25’s acting Boatswain, Apprentice Sea Scout Amanda Klinedinst, commenced piping the moment each dignitary began to pass through the corridor of side boys, and she continued the pipe call until the dignitary was onboard the yacht.  The sideboys saluted at the commencement of the pipe call, and held their salute until the pipe call was completed.  The Ship 25 sideboys were Recruit Sea Scouts Greg Timmons (also an Eagle Scout), Carl Chindblom, Phil Accardo, and Alexander Miller.  The Ship 548 ushers were Sea Scout Recruit Michael Hearth and Sea Scout Recruit Julia Yeckley.

Once all the official guests were onboard, everyone assembled on the sun deck at 1800.  Arthur Curry, Executive Director for Career and Technical Education, District of Columbia Public Schools, acted as Master of Ceremonies.  Explorer Amanda Li from NCAC Explorer Post 1010 led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Antonie Gayle, Associate Pastor of Abundant Life Community Church, gave the invocation.

At this point, the official party repaired to the dining room for a gourmet buffet dinner as SEQUOIA backed out of her berth and proceeded gracefully down the Potomac.  The Sea Scouts enjoyed the view from the sun deck and ate from “gourmet” box lunches.  “I’d live on bread and water, or even do without, to be able to say I cruised down the Potomac on the Presidential Yacht,” said George Kain, Skipper of Sea Scout Ship 25.  The other Sea Scout guests, der PeLiKan Coordinator Steven Nichols, Ship 25 Committee Member Beverly Timmons, and Andreas Follner, an exchange student from Germany visiting with Sea Scout Alex Miller, all echoed similar sentiments.

While the Sea Scouts enjoyed the view, the official party concluded their buffet and proceeded with the evening program.  Arthur Curry gave words of welcome.  Dinner sponsors were recognized and thanked by Ed Feddeman, Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, U.S. House of Representatives and Vice President, Learning for Life, National Capital Area Council Executive Board.  Assistant Secretary of Education Robert Pasternack gave the keynote address.  Arthur Curry then presented the “Russell C. Hill” award to Dr. Vance.  Dr. Vance then expressed his thanks, and the ceremony concluded.

DCP_3364a.JPG (518284 bytes)  SEQUOIA has served U.S. Presidents from Hoover to Bush as the presidential yacht.  Although sold by the U.S. Government in 1977 during the Carter administration as an “economy measure”, the 104 foot long 1925 Trumpy-designed Mathis-built SEQUOIA continues to be available for charter for official use.  Current owner Eagle Scout and NCAC Executive Board Member Gary Silversmith maintains the vessel in pristine condition ready to continue to serve her country at a moment’s notice.  Recent guests onboard have included President Clinton (who watched one of the Gore-Bush debates in the main saloon), former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (who sang Russian folk songs with the bartender), and Senator Edward Kennedy and family (who remembered being onboard for President John F. Kennedy’s last birthday party in 1963).

President Herbert Hoover cruised to Florida on SEQUOIA in 1932.  President Franklin Roosevelt had an elevator installed so he could move unassisted from the presidential bedroom on the second deck to the dining room on the main deck.  A true sailor and former Secretary of the Navy, he enjoyed fishing from the after deck, planned wartime strategy onboard with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and planned his post-D-Day address to the nation while circling in the Potomac off Mt. Vernon.  President Truman, not a sailor, gouged the dining room table in a fit of anger after losing a poker game.  He also came to the final decision to drop the atomic bomb to end World War II while onboard SEQUOIA.  President Eisenhower, also more a soldier than a sailor, used the yacht only occasionally.  President Kennedy, a decorated Navy combat veteran and yachtsman, and Mrs. Kennedy, used SEQUOIA frequently as a place where they could escape the public eye and let their children John and Caroline run free.  President Lyndon Johnson had the Roosevelt elevator replaced with a wet bar, had the door knob to the presidential state room enlarged to “Texas-sized” proportions, and had the floor in the presidential shower lowered three inches to accommodate his 6’ 3” height.  When not remodeling the yacht, Johnson actively lobbied senators and congressmen to pass his Great Society programs. President Nixon was on board 88 times.  He negotiated the nuclear arms reduction treaty with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev on the forward sun deck at a small round table.  He also announced to his family his intention to resign the presidency while cruising with them in SEQUOIA.  President Ford, also a former naval officer, held cabinet meetings in SEQUOIA while she was tied up at the Washington Navy Yard.  His children, Susan and Steven Ford, used the yacht frequently.  It was another former Naval Officer, an Annapolis graduate, Jimmy Carter, who ordered SEQUOIA sold in 1977 to demonstrate his desire for economy in government.

Other heads of state who have enjoyed SEQUOIA cruises include Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, The Emperor and Empress of Japan, the Prime Minister of Canada, and the Premier of China.  To this long and only partial list of people who have been entertained on the President’s Yacht can now be added 5 Sea Scouts from York, PA and 2 Sea Scouts from Avenue, MD.  This all goes to prove the slogan, “Sea Scouts HAVE MORE FUN!”

Respectfully submitted,

George Hay Kain, III

Skipper, SSS YORKSHIRE – Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA


DCP_3317.JPG (770155 bytes)  A single bed in one of the two guest cabins aboard SEQUOIA.

DCP_3320.JPG (688628 bytes)  The double bed in the president's stateroom.

DCP_3325.JPG (248695 bytes)  Information about the president's stateroom.

DCP_3336.JPG (1112630 bytes)  The after deck where Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt liked to fish.

DCP_3337.JPG (920848 bytes)  The forward bulkhead of the enclosed after deck with ladder leading to the sun deck and the door leading to the main dining room.

DCP_3338.JPG (447619 bytes)  Alex, Amanda, and Commodore Yeckley.

DCP_3339.JPG (657277 bytes)  The Commodore "puts out the word" to the assembled Sea Scouts on how the event is to be handled.

DCP_3341.JPG (793843 bytes)  The shaded area at the forward end of the sun deck forward of the stack.

DCP_3314a.JPG (424929 bytes)  Carl, Greg, and Amanda relax by the table on the sun deck where President Nixon and Soviet Premier Brezhnev negotiated the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty on June 19, 1973.

DCP_3342.JPG (797747 bytes)  Sea Scouts relax on the yacht's sun deck.

DCP_3345a.JPG (665782 bytes)  The SSS YORKSHIRE - Ship 25 Contingent: Sea Scout Recruit Carl Chindblom, Apprentice Amanda Klinedinst, Recruit Eagle Scout Greg Timmons, Recruits Alex Miller and Phil Accardo, and Skipper George Kain.

DCP_3349.JPG (613042 bytes)  The SSS SEA EAGLE - Ship 548 Contingent:  Sea Scout Recruit Michael Hearth, Skipper Yeckley, and Sea Scout Recruit Julia Yeckley.

DCP_3350.JPG (667320 bytes)  Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom der PeLiKan Coordinator Steve Nichols and Chesapeake NCAC Squadron Commodore Doug Yeckley relax beside SEQUOIA's stack.  This is the same white stack President Johnson used as a movie screen to watch movies while cruising in SEQUOIA.

DCP_3353.JPG (814394 bytes)  SEQUOIA's pilot house.

DCP_3366.JPG (640602 bytes)  Ship 25 Committee member Beverly Yohe relaxes on the sun deck of the Presidential Yacht SEQUOIA.  ALTERNATE CAPTION: Presidential Secretary Rosemary Woods keeps in touch with the White House while the President entertains congressional leaders in the cabin below.

DCP_3368.JPG (723225 bytes)  Skipper Kain puts the honor guard through its paces in a pre-arrival rehearsal.

DCP_3369.JPG (687950 bytes)  SHOW TIME:  The dignitaries arrive, including tonight's honoree Dr. Paul L. Vance, Superintendent of the District of Columbia Public Schools, and keynote speaker the Honorable Robert H. Pasternack, Assistant Secretary of Education for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, United States Department of Education. Ship 25's acting Boatswain Amanda pipes the side as sideboys Greg, Carl, Alex, and Phil salute.

DCP_3371.JPG (521730 bytes)  The Captain of the SEQUOIA poses beside the jackstaff.

DCP_3374.JPG (248233 bytes)  NCAC Squadron Commodore Doug Yeckley, Chesapeake Flotilla Wardroom Rear Commodore Stephen Alexander, and Wardroom der PeLiKan Coordinator Steve Nichols confer on future great program ideas for Chesapeake Sea Scouts.  ALTERNATE CAPTION:  Vice Admiral Zinovii Petrovich ROZHDESTVENSKII confers with his staff aboard the Russian battleship Kniaz' Suvorov immediately prior to the battle of Tushima.

DCP_3387.JPG (131791 bytes)  After our cruise on SEQUOIA was complete, we decided to do a quick "Washington By Night" tour to show Alex's guest from Germany, Andreas Follner, what our nation's capitol looked like.  We parked beside the Lincoln memorial and reverently viewed same plus the Korean and Viet Nam War memorials.

DCP_3384a.JPG (443993 bytes)  For the boys in the crew, probably a highlight even more exciting than the SEQUOIA cruise was having bevies of young girls beg to have their pictures taken with our crew.  About 400 young women were touring the Lincoln Memorial just as we arrived, so our timing was perfect.  No fewer than ten such requests were made and gladly honored.  I had told our boys many times that, "Women go for a guy in uniform."  Whether or not the fellows believed me before, they certainly believe me now!


Home Up MD Maritime Fest Wills-Kain Eagle Canoe Race D.C. Visit Bo'sun's Project Chris's Eagle Eagle Dinner Nygard Regatta Eco-Challenge Program Launch Chesapeake Regatta Windrose Arrives Willit Work Party NER Regatta Admission Ceremony MS Bike Tour ScoutFleet ScoutFleet2 Wizard Cottage Lot SEA EAGLE COPE Corn Roast Kipona Canoe Race Liberty Ship Catoctin 2003 Mall Show Council Dinner Garrod Hydraulics Tuckahoe Landship Semper Paratus First Bridge of Honor NER BOH Wizard Cross-over HMS SULTANA Greg's Eagle Kuan Yin Rock Hall Herrington Harbour Solomons Night Race USS SEQUOIA Harry's Eagle Project Maritime Day SULTANA Long Cruise Christmas Party Tim's Bridge of Honor USNA SAS BOR Boat Preparation BOR2004 Koch Cup Hospital Ship COMFORT DE Beaches Troop 25 Sailing SASW-2004 Shiloh Fundraiser Adirondacks Halloween Parade Cook-Off VSE Snow Ball


This page is from the website of SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA, USA -