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Photo by Rob Lucey
Photo by Rob Lucey

Sea Scouts Grow Big in Texas

The Boy Scouts of America’s Sea Scout program (which we covered extensively in our March 2013 issue) is expanding in Texas with the construction of a $30 million facility with a 50-slip marina on Galveston Island. Amenities include a pool, foot paths and eco-friendly gardens. When completed, the project is expected to serve up to 20,000 Scouts from around the country annually.

The base is located between the northern bank of Offatts Bayou and Broadway Boulevard, across the water from Moody Gardens and nearly adjacent to Pelican Rest Marina. It includes a pedestrian bridge over the highway connecting to additional land for parking and future facilities. In June, a 135-foot crane began lifting concrete pilings for a five-story, 65,000 square-foot building with meeting places, dorms for the scouts and staff, as well as community rooms.

Designed by architect Bob Randall, the project is being built by Jacob White Construction Company. A live feed of the construction site can be found at www.bacbsa.org/.

The Scouts already had docks at the site for their fleet of Sonar 23 daysailer keelboats and coastal kayaks. The new construction will fill a pressing need for a top-notch educational and recreational facility in the region. The expanded marina will allow the facility to host visits from vessels such as the 82-foot M/V Point Glass, a former U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat that served for 39 years before being decommissioned. After a stint as a NOAA research vessel, the Scouts bought the vessel in an online auction.

The Sea Scouts have been in Texas since 1919. Their mission is to provide nautical education and high adventure aquatic activities that introduce youth to leadership, citizenship and teamwork, while fostering nature and marine studies.

WHAT IS OFFATTS?
After the 1900 storm that devastated Galveston Island, residents decided to rebuild behind a seawall. As they did so, they pumped in fill to raise the entire east end of the island from a 17-foot height behind the wall sloping to the original grade on the bay side of the island. One source for that fill was a shallow estuary that soon became a deep harbor.

In 1912, the Causeway bridge to the mainland was built to carry rail and auto traffic to the island. The water body is said to have gained its unusual name, Offatts Bayou, when riders of the passenger train requested to get “off at the bayou.”

In recent decades, the Moody Gardens tourist destination has grown along the south shore of Offatts adjacent to the municipal airport. The complex includes a rainforest pyramid, an aquarium, a discovery museum, an IMAX and 3D theater, a hotel, a waterpark, a white sand beach and docks for The Colonel, an 800-passenger replica paddlewheel tour boat.

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