From the Skipper:
We say goodbye to an historic Portland landmark. The Sea Scout Base located at 7005 NE Marine Drive has reverted back to the Port of Portland affective May 1, 2020. At that time all Sea Scouts were gone, along with any boats and boat houses, that are not owned by the Boy Scouts. By the end of the year, all remaining docks, boathouses, pilings and structures on land (with the exception of the house) will be removed and the site will be returned to its original natural state.
The Sea Scout base was established in 1966 from a lease arrangement between the Cascade Pacific council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Port of Portland. Prior to that arrangement, the site was the main operation of Fred Devine marine salvage.
The arrangement between the Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts and the Port of Portland for the property started with only a $1.00 annual payment, but as years went on the lease agreement changed and cost were added. For the current lease which expired April 1 of this year, lease payments were made by service hours on Government Island. A minimum of 500 hours of labor was exchanged for the lease. The other costs for operating the Sea Scout Base and program were all made with proceeds of the gift boat program and sweat equity of individual units. Half the proceeds of the boat sale program went to support the Sea Scouts with the remaining income going to the local Scout Council. An average of $65000 per year was generated split between the council and the Sea Scouts.
Over the 53 Years at the location, the scouts made many major improvements to the base including new docks, officers’ quarters building, ramps and gangways. During those years many Sea Scouts have passed through the base on their way to becoming adults. This would include Governor Victor Atiyeh and Senator Mark Hatfield.
What brought this all about was because the Cascade pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America decided that the leasing the Sea Scout base along with owning the boats and associated equipment was too much of a liability for the Boy Scouts. The Sea Scouts asked to look at the risk management report and numbers the Boy Scouts used in their determination, but the Cascade Pacific Council would not release that information.
There was an offer from a Non-profit group to the Boy Scouts to take over the lease from the Port of Portland, the base and all the structures, but that offer was rejected by the CEO of the Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts, Matt Devore, and had the blessing of the Chairman of the board of Directors, Mark Ganz.
With no place to go and the possibility of the Sea Scout program demising into oblivion, each sea scout unit had no other choice but to put what little equipment they had in storage and to operate their program from their homes. Some of the vessels, which were owned by the Boy Scouts, were sold to individual Sea Scout. What was not taken by individual volunteers’ was sold at fire sale prices to the public. That also included engines, parts, and a whole storage area of marine equipment that the Sea Scouts had acquired over the years. What couldn’t be sold by the Boy Scouts was sent to scrap. All the proceeds were to offset the cost of dismantling and closing the base. It has been estimated that the cost could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars although the exact figure may never be known.
But there is still hope for the Sea Scout program
A group of Sea Scout volunteers started a Not For Profit originzation, Portland Sea Base Inc., specifically designed to offer training for youth in the maritime arena. But it will not only be for Sea Scouts but for other youth direct groups. This can be anything from rowing clubs to youth sailing.
In addition to Portland Sea Base Inc., there were a few marina’s that made a very generous offer of allowing some of the ex-Sea Scout vessels to moor at their facility. One marina took in 2 boat houses in addition to 6 vessels. It seemed that when the word got out that the Sea Scouts were being kicked out of their home, the local yachting community helped as much as they could. The Sea Scouts and Portland Sea Base Inc. are extremely grateful for all their help.
Portland Sea Base Inc., with the input of the local Sea Scouts are now looking at acquiring a permanent moorage or marina. They are also looking for donations from private donors along with boat donations to help fund their operation. Portland Sea Base Inc. will be using the proceeds to invest back into their program. There are no salaries or overhead, at the moment so it all can go into building a program for both youth and adults.
To support the Portland Sea Base Inc. and local Sea Scout units please contact Roy Englund at 503-662-8862, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jim Larsen at 360-921-8894, email@example.com