Commodore’s Corner- March 2019

News – Hannah Carter named 2019-2020 National Boatswain

Congratulations to Hannah Carter from Ship 936, “Mariners,” Orange County Council, Dana Point, CA.  Hannah has been selected as the 2019-2020 National Sea Scout Boatswain.  You can learn more about Hannah and her vision for Sea Scouts in the announcement.

The nation-wide selection process for National Boatswain was based on individual applications, with selected candidates advancing to an interview stage.  The members of the selection panel were drawn from the national Sea Scout leadership; with the current National Boatswain, Jack Otto, serving as chair.  Candidates were evaluated on a variety of considerations to identify the one person who could best serve and represent Sea Scouts, BSA in the coming year.  Our thanks go to the selection panel for their careful work in making this important decision.

What’s the latest on the partnership between Sea Scouts, BSA and the Coast Guard Auxiliary?

National Coast Guard leadership has approved the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for use in a pilot program at two Coast Guard Auxiliary districts– 5th Southern (MD-DC-VA-NC) and 9th Eastern (upstate NY-northwest PA-northeast OH) only.  After testing in these pilot program locations, and any needed adjustments, the SOP will be used to expand into other parts of the country.

If you don’t happen to be in one of the pilot locations, remember that you don’t have to wait to coordinate with the Coast Guard Auxiliary to advance boating safety and reinforce past/ongoing relationships through safety-at-sea events, training opportunities, etc.; and for vessel safety checks.  This attachment to the Commodore’s Corner has additional information.  Also, a new video designed to explain the program to Coast Guard Auxiliarists, and Sea Scouts as well, can be found at

I’ve heard there are some new Sea Scout safety videos; how can I get access to them?

New safety videos have recently been posted at There are four topics so far:  lifejackets, ten essentials for Sea Scouts and other boaters, ten essentials for your boat, and how to use a fire extinguisher.  These videos will be useful in program delivery, training, and recruiting settings.  Production was underwritten with a funding grant from the GEICO insurance company.  These videos are based on Sea Scouts teaching Sea Scouts (or anyone else interested in safe boating).  You may even see a Sea Scout friend in the videos.  Thanks to all the staff and volunteers, both youth and adults, who helped make this happen.  Well done!

What is IOWLS? 

IOWLS is the name of a new course for Sea Scout adult leaders–Introduction to On the Water Leader Skills.  This course addresses what has been a significant limit on Sea Scout growth–the ability to “on-board” new adult leaders. 

In Scouts BSA, there are two main training courses for a new leader–Leader Specific Training, and Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills or IOLS.  Sea Scouts has long had an equivalent of the Leader Specific Training in SSALBT (Sea Scout Adult Leader Basic Training), but we have not until now had a course corresponding to IOLS. IOWLS it is intended to provide training for new Sea Scout adult leaders on how to work with youth on the water teaching the skills needed for the first couple of Sea Scout ranks.  IOWLS was piloted in a train-the-trainers session last fall.  Also, the materials have been tested at the Galveston Sea Scout Academy for the past couple of years with good results. 

IOWLS is intended to be run at the council level; with the council determining the qualifications of the course director and instructors.  Experienced Skippers and Mates are good candidates, but so are members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the US Power Squadrons, or other experienced boaters. The course is also intended to be customized to the local boating environment–coastal or inland; sail, power or paddle–to support Sea Scout leaders on the waters and watercraft they are likely to be using in their program. Learn more about IOWLS at

A webinar is scheduled for March 12 on the IOWLS roll out preregister in advance.

By the way, there is another course under development called AOWLS (you guessed it, Advanced On the Water Leader Skills).  The course materials have been submitted to ScoutingU for approval.  AOWLS is the replacement for the former Seabadge Underway course and will build on the foundation of IOWLS.

May triangular neckerchiefs other than the familiar one that is black with white embroidery be worn with the Official Sea Scout Uniform?

The national supply system stocks the Sea Scout black triangular neckerchief, No. 618625, as a readily available source for Ships that choose to wear this optional item.  The Official Sea Scout Uniform is worn similarly to the Scouts BSA field uniform. The Sea Scout section, page 56, of the Guide to Awards and Insignia, mentions “other insignia… may be worn as depicted elsewhere in this guide…”  That includes the Wood Badge neckerchief.  Also, neckerchiefs are discussed on page 13 of the Guide.  Just substitute the word Ship for Troop and the result is:  “… neckerchiefs are optional. (Ships may) choose their own official neckerchief.”  And, “Special neckerchiefs… may be authorized by local councils. Such neckerchiefs may include identification of the chartered organization.” And, “,,,may be personalized with (Ship) number, city, and state.”  So, Sea Scout Ships may wear council-approved custom unit neckerchiefs.  All of this applies only to triangular neckerchiefs; the “tar-flap” design, No. 618626, may not be altered or imitated. 

You can submit your question to the Commodore’s Corner at; or click here. We’ll answer the most frequent or urgent questions in a future edition of the Commodore’s Corner.

Subscribe to the Commodore’s Corner via the National Sea Scout Distribution list here.