Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Sea Scouts Find New Home at Yacht Club

Port giving group the boot, but South Shore Yacht Club will provide new home.

By - Jun 10th, 2021 05:20 pm
2452 S. Lincoln Memorial Dr., home of the Sea Scouts Ship Invincible 299. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

2452 S. Lincoln Memorial Dr., home of the Sea Scouts Ship Invincible 299. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

In April we reported that 2021 could become a swan song for the Sea Scouts Ship Invincible 299.

Port Milwaukee was terminating the no-cost lease held by the group, an arm of the Boy Scouts of America, for 62 years. Port director Adam Tindall-Schlicht said he had found a new tenant that would generate revenue for the city-owned port, create at least 10 jobs and provide enhanced access to an overlooked Lake Michigan pier.

Sea Scouts committee chairman Steve Smiley told Urban Milwaukee that he knew groups have been interested in the past but that the scouts felt “put out in the cold” by the news.

The chainlink fence surrounding the scouts’ one-acre site at 2452 S. Lincoln Memorial Dr. has sported various signs with a message of “save our scouts” for the past year.

And now someone has.

The South Shore Yacht Club will provide the scouts and their vessels complimentary access to its sailing facilities. Port Milwaukee will store the vessels for free in the winter.

The group uses its current site at the northeast corner of Bay View to store its vessels and hold meetings in a pole-barn-style building.

The yacht club, a nonprofit tenant of Milwaukee County, operates a 230-slip facility at 2300 E. Nock St. with cranes, a fuel dock, tenders, dry-sail storage and winter storage. It also operates a bar and restaurant.

The club is located on the other side of Cupertino Park from the current Sea Scouts location at the end of E. Russell Ave.

“I’m grateful for the partnership and vision of the South Shore Yacht Club and the generosity of Milwaukee County,” port director Tindall-Schlicht in a statement. “I am confident this new arrangement will ensure that Sea Scouts reaches new and more diverse youth participants interested in on-the-water experiences and training.”

The organization’s annual report says it served 500 people last year. But a press release from the port notes that the Three Harbors Council of the Boy Scouts of America said the group had only eight registered youth members in each of the last three years.

Smiley told Urban Milwaukee in April that 20 to 50 people come to regular meetings and groups come across the state to its vessels and receive training.

“This new partnership is great for Bay View and the City of Milwaukee,” said area Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic in statement. “As the new home of the Sea Scouts, the South Shore Yacht Club presents great opportunity for increased community involvement and an additional investment in our youth.”

Who is the mystery tenant triggering the move? Tindall-Schlicht said in April he will divulge an answer to that publicly once a lease is negotiated. The 467-acre, city-owned port is largely leased to private operators. Since Tindall-Schlicht became director in 2018 the city has signed a number of high-profile leases, including with a cruise ship operator and grain exporter.

The Sea Scouts aren’t the first group to use the slip for education. The Naval Reserve Center centered docked the submarines USS Tautog and USS Cobia at the site for training. The Tautag arrived at the site in 1953 (after previously being docked with the prior reserve center site in the Historic Third Ward) and was replaced by the Cobia in 1959. A sign at the site notes that the Sea Scouts first meetings were held aboard the submarines. The Tautog was shortly thereafter sold for scrap and in 1970 the Cobia was towed to Manitowoc for use as part of a museum. A Bay View Historical Society newsletter has more on the south side neighborhood’s one-time fleet.

Photos

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