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> History

The Scheme started in 1964 for Colchester Scouts as a result of cruises made across to the continent in a 27-foot whaler – when I was running the 12th Colchester Sea Scouts.

Crossing the North Sea in an open boat might have been O.K for the Vikings, but modern youth demanded a roof over their heads, and a little more comfort with a galley, bunks, and toilet facilities. So we had a look around for a vessel that could offer these facilities.

We found a converted 44-foot fishing smack called Sallie which was on the market. The price was a lot more than we could afford so we then formed a committee of 4 Skippers and 6 Mates a Secretary, my wife Audrey, and a treasurer Mary Turner. We then decided that we would try to raise the money by approaching local business people without much success I am afraid, apart from one person Harvey Benham the then editor of the Essex County Standard He was a keen sailor and a keen supporter of traditional East Coast sailing craft and he agreed to put up half the cost if we found the balance. By putting our own money in to the project and borrowing the balance, at a zero interest rate, we managed to raise £1,750.00 – enough to purchase the vessel.

Having purchased the Sallie we then realised that we would have to widen the use beyond just our group. So it became the Colchester Scout Sail Training Scheme, with the approval of the then Divisional Commissioner Cyril Meadows. We had a lot of opposition from a number of other senior figures in the Division, but in spite of this opposition, the scheme still went ahead.

The numbers carried in this first year was 178 trainees and 56 days were spent at sea. By 1976 we went up to 586 trainees and 282 days were spent at sea. This would have been higher but for the fact that by then we did more longer trips.

In 1967 we obtained a grant from the Essex Education Authorities. This enabled us to pay off our debts to the good people that had given us loans.

The aim of the scheme was to take young people, primarily Scouts, to sea for a new experience in sailing and to face tough and sometimes dangerous but controlled situations.

They would also receive instruction in nautical skills, and be encouraged to take responsibility as far as their nautical skills allowed. During cruises they would also learn to live together, and work as a team in an entirely new environment. The whole experience would be an excellent character building exercise.

The aims have now developed to include formal training courses up to Yacht Master Ocean with all the associated skills that go with these qualifications.

Chapter 1: Sallie