United States Navel Sea Cadets from the Commodore Perry Division of Greater Toledo kicked off two years of training in August with the 2009 Sea Cadet Challenge, hosted by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, other naval units and Harbor View Yacht Club.
Several youths, ages 10-18, from the Press coverage area and their parents participated in the event. The Sea Cadet program has been in the United States since the early 1950s.
For the local Sea Cadets, this was their first sailing trip on Lake Erie.
Approximately 12 sailing vessels took the Sea Cadets on a three-hour trip into western Lake Erie. Several power vessels from Harbor View Yacht Club, located at 2180 Autokee St. in Oregon, accompanied the sailing vessels in support of the exercise.
The exercise began at noon and departed out of Harbor View. The Sea Cadets sailed their vessels to the Toledo Harbor Light at the entrance to Toledo Harbor.
"We were back at 4 o'clock. It was perfect," said Mike Joseph, Chief Warrant Officer O4, United States Navy, and Sea Cadet Challenge Coordinator. "We had good support from the U.S. Coast Guard. We received help from the U.S. Navy and their medical department in Toledo. The Navy had a large footprint in helping out."
Joseph said the Sea Cadet exercise also helped Jolly Roger Sailing Club with its Junior Sail Fleet program.
"We feel that both groups will complement each other," Joseph said. "We have similar goals, which include educating and training our youth in the nautical world of sailing.
"This (exercise) kicked off a practical platform for the Sea Cadets to practice their techniques of seamanship and leadership skills. Parents wanted to be part of this first trip to see what their child will be doing over the next two years. We welcome the parental involvement."
The Aug. 15 event was the first sailing trip for the Sea Cadets and the start of a two-year program on nautical education, seamanship and leadership skills. Using the Harbor View sail fleet as their platform, the Sea Cadets practice in the winter and summer on 30- to 35-foot-vessels, where they will learn to operate the vessels by themselves under direct supervision of their military officers.
"The Sea Cadets here are based out of the Navy Operational Support Center in Perrysburg," Joseph said.
They meet for one weekend per month. They are the only group located in this area of the state, and that's what makes them big and special."
The Sea Cadets program is world-wide.
"We had more than 50 from Northwest Ohio," Joseph said. "This was a one-time event to allow the parents to see the water area we'll be working in and the yacht club and the type of vessels they'll be working on.
"Why is that important? Detroit has a 125-foot ship that kids operate that used to be a torpedo recovery ship.
Toledo doesn't have anything; they do now. I saw a need between Sea Cadets and at the Harbor View Yacht Club, where I'm a safety officer. They wanted to figure out how to get kids into their sailing fleet program.
"The Sea Cadets were trying to find a platform to use as a practice for their class sessions. That's where I put the two together. The Challenge allowed the parents and youths to be able to see what he relationship will be like between Harbor View Yacht Club and the Sea Cadets."
Captain Daniel Sydes, a member of the Royal Marines in England, is an Executive Officer for the Toledo Sea Cadets. Sydes is on a four-year assignment in Toledo, and while here he learned that Toledo has a Sea Cadet program, the same as they have in England.
Sydes participated in the 2009 Sea Cadet Challenge.
"My wife and I were involved with the Sea Cadets in the UK, and when we arrived here and moved to Perrysburg, we found there was a unit locally," Sydes said. "My wife is a Royal Navy nurse and is working as a reserve officer at the Naval Operational Support Center in Toledo. We offered to help, and here we are."
Sydes said the Sea Cadet Challenge on Lake Erie was "perfect."
"The weather was perfect and everything ran to time," he said. "All the cadets really enjoyed themselves. They can't wait to get afloat again on the yachts. We're looking forward to working with Harbor View Yacht Club and its members."