Reef Points

Sea Scouts, B.S.A. is not a militaristic organization, nor is it intended necessarily to be a "feeder" for the Sea Service Academies.  However, there is much of value to be gained from a general knowledge of the traditions of the sea services.  Listed below are some excerpts relevant to Sea Scouting from Reef Points, a small booklet all Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy are expected to commit to memory.

  1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A SEA SCOUT?
  2. HOW'S THE COW?
  3. WHAT IS A MAN OVERBOARD DRILL?
  4. WHAT ARE IRISH PENNANTS?
  5. WHAT ARE SOME FAMOUS NAVAL SAYINGS?
  6. WHAT ARE THE 5 BASIC RESPONSES?

 

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A SEA SCOUT?

All me bloomin' life, sir!  Me mother was a mermaid, me father was King Neptune.  I was born on the crest of a wave and rocked in the cradle of the deep.  Seaweed and barnacles are me clothes.  Every tooth in me head is a marlinspike; the hair on me head is hemp.  Every bone in me body is a spar, and when I spits, I spits tar!  I'se hard, I is, I am, I are.

Modified, from Reef Points 1998-1999, p. 202.

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HOW'S THE COW?

Sir, she walks, she talks, she's full of chalk.  The lacteal fluid extracted from the female of the bovine species is highly prolific to the nth degree!  (where n = the approximate number of glasses of milk remaining in the carton or jug).

Reef Points 1998-1999, pp. 204-205.

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MAN OVERBOARD DRILL

    Lookout - "Man overboard! Port (or starboard) side!

    OOD - "Port (Starboard) engine stop!  Left (or right) full rudder!  Sound six short blasts on the ship's whistle!  Break out the Oscar flag!  Bo'suns Mate!  Where's the Bo'suns Mate?"

    Bo'suns Mate - "Bo'suns Mate, aye, aye."

    OOD - "Take Charge!"

    Bo'suns Mate - "Man number 2 (or 3) lifeboat!  Stand by the falls!  Lower away together; Stand by to let fall!  Let go the after fall!  Let go the forward fall!  Coxswain, take charge!"

    Coxswain - "Stand by your oars!  Out oars!  Cast off the sea painter!  Give way together!"

Reef Points 1998-1999, pp. 203-204.

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WHAT TIME IS IT?

Sir, I am greatly embarrassed and deeply humiliated that due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control, the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of my chronometer are in such inaccord with the great sidereal movement with which time is generally reckoned that I cannot with any degree of accuracy state the correct time, sir.  But without fear of being too greatly in error, I will state that it is about __ minutes, __ seconds, and __ ticks past __ bells.

Reef Points 1998-1999, pp. 205.

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IRISH PENNANTS:

    An Irish Pennant is an unseamanlike, dangling loose end of a line or piece of clothing.

    Reef Points are pieces of small stuff used to reduce the area of a sail in strong winds, making for smoother sailing.

    The 6 minute rule is that the speed of a ship in knots divided by 10 is the distance in nautical miles covered in 6 minutes.

    An old seafaring saying which is still valid is: "Never stand in a bight."

    Veering of the wind is a change in direction, clockwise.  Backing of the wind is a change in direction, counter-clockwise.

    A cardinal rule in dealing with subordinates [and Sea Scouts] is commend them in public but reprove them in private.

    The anchor is "aweigh" as soon as it is no longer touching the bottom.

    A wildcat is that part of the capstan that grips the anchor chain.

    In half-masting a national ensign that is not already hoisted, it shall first be closed-up and then lowered to half-mast.  Prior to lowering, a half-masted ensign shall be closed-up.  When the ensign is at half mast, the union jack, if flown from the jackstaff, shall also be at half mast.

    The most famous Coast Guard saying is "You have to go out.  You don't have to come back."

Reef Points 1998-1999, passim.

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FAMOUS NAVAL SAYINGS:

    "I have not yet begun to fight." - John Paul Jones, in engagement between the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis.

    "He who will not risk cannot win." - John Paul Jones.

    "The colors must never be struck." - Lieutenant William Burrows, U.S.S. Enterprise, 1813.

    "I will find a way, or make one." - Robert E. Peary.

    "Take it, lad.  You need it more than I do." - Chaplain George S. Rentz, giving his life jacket to a seaman in the sinking of the U.S.S. Houston, 1942.

    "Take her down." - Commander Howard Gilmore, U.S.S. Growler, ordering his crew to leave him on deck, wounded as he was, and submerge to save the ship.

Reef Points 1998-1999, pp. 215-217.

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THE FIVE BASIC RESPONSES:

  1. "Yes, Sir/Ma'am"
  2. "No, Sir/Ma'am"
  3. "No excuse, Sir/Ma'am"
  4. "I'll find out, Sir/Ma'am"
  5. "Aye Aye, Sir/Ma'am"

Reef Points 1998-1999, p. 225.

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