Florida brother, sister earn Sea Scouting’s top rank

Scouting can be a family tradition. We often hear of Scouts following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents, going to the same camps, learning the same skills and achieving the same ranks. We hear of siblings enjoying Scouting adventures together, too.

It isn’t often, though, that we hear of Sea Scout Quartermasters from the same family.

Harvey and Taylor Morrissey of Sea Scout Ship 116 in Ocala, Fla., both earned Sea Scouting’s top rank this year. They are the first to earn the award in the North Florida Council.

On average, only 30 Sea Scouts nationwide earn the Quartermaster Award each year. It’s a rare feat. Annually, about 90 Venturers earn the Summit Award. Last year, 61,353 Scouts earned the Eagle Scout Award, the Scouts BSA program’s highest honor.

While every Scouting program helps youth become confident servant leaders, each offers something a little bit different. The Morrisseys chose Sea Scouts because of all the opportunities on the water.

“For us, Sea Scouts has been a great way to connect with other people interested in the nautical world. It’s is a great place to learn about leadership and a safe environment to grow,” Harvey says. “We’ve always loved the water, so it was a win-win.”

Sibling Sea Scouts

Harvey, 16, and Taylor, 19, joined Sea Scouts about three years ago with Ship 16 in Suffolk, Va. At first, they focused on tackling the ranks of Apprentice, Ordinary, Able and Quartermaster.

“Well, I would say it was good-natured competition between us for a while at the beginning of it all, but after a while I think we both realized it wasn’t about who got Quartermaster first,” Harvey says. “It was about building up each other’s knowledge and appreciation for Sea Scouting and our new ship.”

There was plenty to learn aboard a Sea Scout ship. After their family moved to Florida, Harvey and Taylor discovered the closest ship was a two-hour drive away. So, the Morrisseys helped launch a ship based in their new hometown.

The siblings have logged more than 100 credited days, including three long cruises lasting about eight days. They’ve also had the opportunity to sail on the U.S. Coast Guard’s cutter Eagle, which is used to train Coast Guard Academy cadets.

“We have learned skills, such as how to sail, nautical history and tradition, marksmanship and so much more,” Taylor says. “It’s difficult to work and get along with not only with a bunch of other youth and adults on a eight-day sail, but with each other. We have learned to work effectively as a team.”

Teamwork was also important for their Quartermaster projects. Like the Life Scouts seeking the Eagle Scout rank in the Scouts BSA program, Sea Scouts must complete a project to earn the Quartermaster Award. Taylor built and put up manatee awareness signs for North Florida’s springs and waterways to help prevent those gentle aquatic creatures from getting injured by motorboats. Harvey planted more than 1,000 trees in the Carney Island Recreation and Conservation Area to beautify and stabilize that ecosystem.

“They both benefited the environment, and we both are large advocates for environmental protection,” Harvey says. “Both projects allowed us to showcase our love for our waterways and parks.”

Sea Scouting also allowed the duo to get jobs on the water. Taylor has worked at Florida Sea Base as a sailing instructor while Harvey became a dockmaster for glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs State Park. Harvey was recently selected as the National Sea Scout Yeoman and is a member of the National Sea Scout Quarterdeck, the highest level of youth leadership in Sea Scouting.

About Michael Freeman 183 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.