The Code of the Sea Scouts
as revealed in 'Sea Scouts Up-Channel'
Setting the Standard
“Ough !” ejaculated the bowman, as a shower of spray hit him on the back and a cold stream of salt water trickled down his head. “We look like getting wet shirts before this job’s done.”
It was soon evident that the task the Sea Scouts had undertaken was not only a strenuous one. It was a dangerous one; but the mute appeal for aid was sufficient. Having set out upon an undertaking they meant to see it through.
Never to Interfere
Mr. Graham came aft. Then, belaying the sheet, he glanced at the bellying canvas which was just discernible against the loom of the land.
That glance told him that the youthful helmsman knew his job.
"Couldn't do better myself," thought the Scout¬master.
He made no attempt to take the tiller. It was one of his principles in Sea Scouting never to interfere when one of the lads was doing his work properly. And Desmond knew it was "up to him" to keep the yacht on her course; he also knew that he was doing the right thing, otherwise his Scoutmaster would have " butted in ".
Suddenly, through the shower of spray flying over the yacht's bows, Desmond caught sight of the outer¬most of the beacons, barely twenty yards to lee'ard.
It was now a case of " up helm and run for it ". The yacht answered readily to the action of the rudder, and in a few seconds she was scudding before the wind with slacked-off sheets and almost on an even keel.
"See the next mark?" shouted the Scoutmaster " On your port bow?"
"Ay, ay, sir," was the confident response.
Discipline and Self-Reliance
"Now, you fellows," said the Scoutmaster, "you had better turn in. There's nothing more to be done that I cannot do single-handed. If you don't get decent rest you'll be fit for nothing to-morrow."
The trio were reluctant to go, but they gave no sign of their feelings. It was discipline, and discipline was a subject upon which Mr. Graham laid particular stress. When he gave an order he gave an order, and it had to be carried out promptly. Yet he had the happy knack of serving out pills with a sugared coating. There was nothing harsh or unnecessary in his orders. The Sea Scouts knew this and admired him for it, while he on his part realized that unless discipline were maintained, without destroying a sense of self-reliance in the lads, it would be a risky, nay, positively dan¬gerous business to be responsible for the lives of his youthful charges afloat.
Method and Consideration
Breakfast over, the Sea Scouts struck camp. They did so methodically. The blankets, after being aired, were folded; the scanty gear cleaned and packed away. Then the cinders of the fire and all loose paper and refuse were buried, so that the owner of the land would have no cause for complaint.
Method in the madness
It was a pleasant, almost uneventful sail. Mr. Graham exercised the crew, getting them to go-about, gybe, heave-to, and shoot the yacht up into the wind in order to pick up the lifebuoy, which he threw overboard without warning—to practice " man over¬board!" evolutions.
People ashore must have speculated on the cause of the Spindrift’s antics; but there was method in the Scoutmaster's madness. It was all very well to put to sea under ideal conditions and to be unprepared for eventualities. Mr. Graham meant to make his crew capable of "knocking down a couple of reefs ", and, until they could do this smartly and without unneces¬sary fuss, he kept them at it.
By the time the Spindrift was abreast of Carnbeak the Scoutmaster announced his satisfaction at the way the crew had carried out their task. Already they had "got the hang of things". They knew where each sheet and halliard was belayed, so that there would be no confusion when it came to shortening or stowing sail. Each lad took his trick at the helm, so as to get accustomed to the pull of the tiller and the amount of helm necessary to put the yacht about without causing her to miss stays and get in irons, for the Spindrift's long keel and pronounced forefoot made her rather slow in going about.
The Brotherhood of the Sea
This task was successfully accomplished, and by noon the mast wedges were driven home and caulked, the shrouds set up, and the boom and gaff placed in position.
"Now you're all shipshape and Bristol fashion!" exclaimed Mr. Armitage.
"Thanks largely to your assistance," added Mr. Graham.
The Scoutmaster of the Milford Troop made a deprecatory gesture.
"That's nothing much," he protested. " It's all part of the game—the Brotherhood of the Sea. We've been helped out of difficulties before to-day, and much of the zest of life is derived from helping others.'
"I hope we may never have to do you a good turn of this sort, Armitage," said Mr. Graham, "but, if we do, you will know that it will be a pleasure for us to do so. One never knows."
The Scouts of Seal Island - 1913
The Sea Scouts of the “Petrel” - 1914
Sea Scouts All – 1920
Sea Scouts Abroad – 1921
Sea Scouts Up-Channel – 1922
The Sea Scouts of the “Kestrel” – 1926
A Mystery of the Broads – 1930
Sea Scout Morrison's Coup and Other Sea Tales - 1934
Haunted Harbour - 1937
Sea Scouts, Alert ! - 1939
Sea Scouts at Dunkirk – 1941
The Scouts of Seal Island – 1913
This appears to be the fore-runner to the stories about the sea scout movement.
The Sea Scouts of the “Petrel” -1914
This appears to be the earliest of the "Sea Scouts" stories by Percy
F. Westerman. In it he uses many of the plot devices that he returns
to in later stories. The main part of the plot is that of making a
voyage along the south coast of England and then returning to the
home port. Along the journey each day is packed with incidents. The
Sea Scouts generally meet with both good fellowship, foolish
mariners, criminal types and youngsters who are "saved" by membership
of the scout movement.
The action begins near Haslar Creek in Gosport. Stephen Dacres
entrusts his dinghy to a young tenderfoot scout called Tom Webb
whilst he sets off for the railway station. When he comes back he
witnesses Webb holding off a gang of hooligans who had tried to take
the dinghy by force. As a result of his good conduct rich Stephen
Dacres makes a spur of the moment decision to give his old yacht
called the "Petrel" to 9th Gosport Troop of Sea Scouts and to their
Scoutmaster Leslie Carter. In order to take possession the Scouts
have to travel to Falmouth and bring the yacht back under sail to
Portsmouth. The adventures begin almost as soon as they set off. On
board the S.S.Lady Edith the scouts save a gentleman who has a heart
attack.When they finally reach Falmouth there are several chapters
devoted to learning how to handle the new craft. They also get
involved with the local scouts in building bridges. Saving an old
couple from a fire seems merely routine for them. There are visits to
Megavissey, Fowey, Looe, Plymouth, Dartmouth and a frightening passage through Portland Race.
Sea Scouts All-1920
The 1st Milford Sea Scouts are based in the Keyhaven Creek and their
Scoutmaster is called Armitage. The only way the troop can get in any
real sailing is to volunteer during the summer holidays to take on jobs crewing other people's boats. The advertisement they place brings in two replies. The first commission they undertake to navigate a motorboat from Oxford to Teddington. The trip down the upper reaches of the Thames involves much negotation of locks and running of the engine at far less than its normal power. Their job is extended so that they take it on to Brightlingsea.
The second job consists of taking a sailing vessel from Great Yarmouth to Poole in Dorset. Fortunately this vessel also has auxiliary engines. Along the way the Scouts acquire a dog which they rescue from a sandbank near the mouth of the Thames. As usual there are troubles with making harbour, dragging anchors, disabled craft and incompetent mariners.
The Scouts are reunited with the owner of the first motor
boat who decides to turn the vessel over to them in return for their
keeping it available to him when he wants a summer cruise. The motor
boat (called the Olivette) appears in the next two books in the Sea
Sea Scouts Abroad - 1921
This book by Percy F. Westerman is the second of the Sea Scouts
stories which concentrates on the "Olivette".
The 1st Milford Sea Scouts have just refitted their 54 foot motor
boat the "Olivette".Patrol Leader Peter Stratton and the rest of the
troop are looking forward to their first long voyage. The plan is to
take the "Olivette" across the Channel to Havre and then up the Seine
to Rouen and possibly Paris. Scoutmaster Armitage readily approves
this idea. However, before the momentous voyage can happen several
other adventures befall the boys and their craft. First of all
the "Olivette" gets stolen by two thieves making their getaway.
Fortunately it is recovered by the Weymouth Scout Troop who delight
in doing their"good turn" for their comrades.
On their way back to Keyhaven the Milford Sea Scouts have further
adventures with a tidal race and in Poole Harbour. The crew of
the "Olivette" changes before the great journey when Peter's dog
Bruin has to be left behind and an old fisherman called Tom Boldrigg
comes on board so that he can visit the war grave where his son was
The adventures in France include an encounter with dock urchins in
Havre and with a tidal bore on the Seine - Rouen canal. A drifting
barge nearly sinks them and they rescue a rich man from a high-speed
hydrofoil type of craft. He quickly becomes their benefactor and
arranges a camp and visits to Paris. Another dangerous crossing of
the Channel and a reunion with the dog Bruin completes the last stage
of the journey and the book.
This appears to be the third in a closely-connected series of three
books within the overall Sea Scout series of stories.
The Southend-on- Sea Sea Scouts are spending a part of their summer
holidays on the premises of the Wootton Bridge Sea Scouts on the Isle
of Wight. The visitors' occupation is to spend the time afloat on the
guardship of their absent hosts. On the very first day a smart bit of
work allows them to rescue a yacht which is in distress off the mouth
of Wootton Creek. The owner of the yacht is a Mr. Collinson who owes
his expensive yacht and his life to the scouts and their scout
master. As a result he offers them the chance of the gift of this old
yacht which he no longer needs. The snag is that the Spindrift is
lying in a harbour at Bude in north Cornwall. To claim their prize
the scouts will have to make the arduous, costly and dangerous
journey "up-Channel" ,
Fate intervenes to lend them a helping hand. On to the scene come the
Sea Scouts of Keyhaven (who feature in the two earlier Sea Scouts)
stories with their motor cruiser Olivette. The second half of the
book is concerned with the adventures that the scouts have on their
way to Bude and then down-Channel again on the way back. These
adventures include being stranded in various harbours, being attacked
by a Borstal runaway and being surrounded by fog off Land's End.
Another meeting with the Olivette allows the Southend-on- Sea scouts
to repay the favour that was done to them earlier.
The Sea Scouts of the “Kestrel” -1926
The Story of a Cruise of Adventure & Pluck in a Small Yacht on the English Channel
A Mystery of the Broads -1930
Mr. Forbes, the Scoutmaster of the Putney Sea Scouts is also an
investigator for the Lynx Detective Corporation. One summer he is
assigned to investigate the disappearance of an artist called
Dellifer on the Norfolk Broads. Unfortunately this means he will
probably have to cancel the long-arranged cruise with his scouts.
However, his boss at the detective agency tells him that the scouts
will be a perfect cover whilst he looks into a possible insurance
fraud. So the only thing to be done is to arrange to move the motor
yacht Zoroaster from its berth in the Thames to the far different
waters of the Broads.
Thus there follows a trip down the river at the heart of the capital
and round the coasts of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. As usual with a
Westerman story this seemingly ordinary voyage is packed with many
exciting incidents with stops at Burnham on Crouch, Felixtowe Docks,
Walberswick and then Lowestoft. The mystery becomes a search for a
missing body and one of the scouts gets laid up in hospital as a
result of a struggle with a leak. Dellifer was already well known as
a generous benefactor to the troop and so they press home their
inquiries with enthusiasm and determination. Acid burns cause Mr.
Forbes to suspect a deeper crime altogether is underway. The suspects
are traced to a remote part of Hickling and Horsey Mere Broadsand
there is also an exciting chase back to Yarmouth.
Sea Scout Morrison's Coup and Other Sea Tales - 1934
"Courtney Mills, the Scotland Yard detective who makes another
appearance in "Sea Scouts Alert !" is assigned to Wales so that he can investigate a case of gun-running between Britain and certain foreign powers. On the train in London Mills overhears a scout master talking about the arrangements for his forthcoming trip to Haunted Harbour on Anglesey.
The rest of the story involves the actions of both Mills ansd
the Sea Scouts as they come across strange doings near to a small
apparently derelict harbour on the north east coast of the island. When a secret device heading for the Admiralty is stolen the boys are plunged into an unusual adventure. This includes the investigation of a hidden cave and an imprisonment in a ruined tower. The climax of the story is played out on board a motor yacht which has come into the harbour to pick up the contraband goods and the secret weapon.
Unusually for Percy F. Westerman the hero's sister plays quite a large part in the latter half of the story. She flies her own aeroplane and is very resourceful when danger threatens."
"Dick Hargreaves, P.L., and Jimmy Cotton, his Second, are
directly 'up against' Tom Redpole, 'The Ferret', and indirectly
against Apulgrab, smuggler and swindler-in- chief.
The "Otters" take up their camp near Haunted Harbour, and there
comes Courtney Mills, of New Scotland Yard, on a vague quest. As the
story proceeds we see Mills a prisoner and 'The Ferret' temporarily
elated over the theft of a mysterious 'gadget' reputed to be of
enormous value. We see, too, the arrival at camp of an aeroplane, and
what came of that; the flight of Apulgrab aboard the Katherina, and
the yacht's capture, and the return to Haunted Harbour.
Up to the last, tragedy seems imminent, but the "Otters" play their
part, Apulgrab and Co. are thrown very much out of gear, and a
strange secret is revealed.
Readers of this story will at once see why it has been filmed by
Messrs. Kinescout Productions - it is packed with thrills and
Sea Scouts Alert -1939
This particular Sea Scouts story shows Percy.F.Westerman dealing with
things about which he clearly new very little. Once again the Sea
Scouts a prominent part of the story but the hero is a Secret Service
Agent called Courtney Mills. He also appears in an earlier Westerman
story called "Haunted Harbour". The action is confined to environs of
Poole harbour where the Lymington Sea Scouts Patrol is joining a camp
with other groups from other coastal towns. The Sea Scout main
protagonist is Dick Farleigh, the Otter Patrol leader of the Lymington lads.
A suitcase dropped from a fast-moving car proves to contain some
eastern-looking idols which in fact conceal something far moe
dangerous. Very soon the Scouts are up against one of those
international criminal and sabotage organisations with which
Mr.Westerman is sometimes fascinated. The convincing details of boating experience about which the author knew a lot are jarred (and marred) by being put in the framework of a very silly plot. There are
exploding "infernal machines" and crooks who bungle every aspect of
their work alongside descriptions of races through mud-surrounded
creeks. This is certainly the weakest of the Sea Scouts stories that I have come across so far.
Sea Scouts at Dunkirk - 1941
Here is the dust-jacket plurb for this book. The story is exactly as
suggested in the title:-
"Mr. Westerman uses his knowledge of Sea Scouting. and his very
intimate acquaintance with the effect of the War on the South Coast, to produce one of his most exciting yarns. He tells how the Easthaven
Troop took, from the very start, their share in coast-watching duries, not without considerable thrills. Helping to man the local life-boat,they learn something of the Nazi atrocities, and prove themselves when helping to rescue the crew of a Lightship attacked by aircraft.
Excitement reaches its height, however, when, getting their forty-foot Sea-Lion into the water, the take a hand in the rescue of the B.E.F. from Dunkirk. That heroic episode is realistically and most excitingly described. They have their full share of the exploits, hardships and desperate perils. but at last. with their crammed shipload of soldiers, get back to Easthaven in triumph. In the course of their adventures two of the Troop are wounded but both recover, and they are shown at the end of the story eager to take a yet larger share in the defence of Britain."
Round Britain circumnavigation added to this blog.