The FIRST
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May 1954
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The Albrook Crew

Photos by
Ralph K. Skinner
Panama American


The Star & Herald
Friday - May 7, 1954

Eleven crews were registered for the Explorer ocean to ocean Cayuco race which was to start this afternoon at 4:30 from the Panama Canal Boat Club, Cristobal.

Crews registered included two from Post 4, Diablo, Advisor Wm. N. Taylor; Post 6, Cristobal, Advisor R.E. Cox; Ship 8, Ft. Amador, Mate J.B. Greer; two from Ship 9, Cristobal, Skipper Paul Doyle; two from Ship 10, Gamboa, Skipper Charles Holmes; Crew 12, Gatun, Scoutmaster J.A. Cunningham; Post 7, Curundu, Chairman Philip Goodman; and Squadron 22, Albrook, Project Officer Lt. Leon Kluttz.

The crews will get underway from the Yacht Club with members of the club under Commodore John B. Coffey furnishing the official starters and escort boats.

After 4.8 miles of paddling, the crews will be clocked into Gatun Locks Boat Landing by Wm. A. Van Siclen, Jr., Superintendent, Atlantic Branch Locks.

Through the cooperation of the Police Division, sleeping quarters will be provided the Explorers and a committee composed of Council vice-President R.R. Arnold, District Chairman Vic Young and Scoutmaster J.A. Cunningham will see that supper and breakfast are provided.  The Explorers will attend the local movie that evening.

The next 18.75 miles to Gamboa will test the endurance and ability of the Explorers as they take the Banana or Small Boats Channel.  Accompanied by Army and police boats this leg will be the most difficult leg of the entire trip.

The crews will be escorted to Gamboa by J.A. Driscoll, Asst. Chief Dredging Division.

Vice-President Hans Pederson and  Skipper Charles Holmes will handle the food arrangements here with sleeping to be done in the Dredging Division Bunkhouse.  Here again the Explorers will attend the local movie.

The Gamboa Yacht Club under Commodore C. T. Askew will furnish starters Sunday morning and escort vessels to Pedro Miguel.  R.C. Stockham, Chief of the Locks Division will clock the crews into Pedro Miguel, while Truman H. Hoenke, Superintendent, Pacific Branch Locks, will clock them in and out of Miraflores Locks.

Time taken transiting the locks will not be counted into their time schedule.

The Balboa Yacht Club under Commodore W. H. Clark, Jr., will then take up the escorting and bring them into the finish line at the club.  Refreshments will be served by the American Legion and the Award Presentation Ceremony will be held at this time.

The race is one of the many activities set up by the reactivated Explorer Committee by Gerald A. Doyle, Jr. Commander R.S. Paret is serving as Race Commodore.  Wesley Townsend is serving as Race Coordinator and Russell M. Jones as Locks Transiting Instructor.


The Star & Herald
Saturday - May 9, 1954
Gamboa Explorers Lead Cayuco Race

Explorers from Ship 10 Gamboa retained their lead in the Explorer ocean-to-ocean cayuco race by winning the second leg from Gatun to Gamboa yesterday.

The distance of 18 3/4 miles was covered in five hours 37 minutes.  Members of the crew included crewleader Bill Campbell, Stephen Herring, Jim Richardson and Jim Driscoll.

Nosing out Cristobal Ship 9 for second place was Crew 12 of Gatun.

The final leg of the trip to Balboa started at 6:30 am.m. today from Gamboa.   Presentation of awards will be made at the American Legion Club this afternoon by council president H.O. Paxson, Lt. Gov. of the Canal Zone.

Explorer chairman Jerry Doyle will preside at the ceremony with appropriate remarks being made by Comdr. R.S. Perrit.


The Star & Herald
Monday - May 11, 1954
Gamboa Explorers Win Cayuco Race Through PC

Gamboa Explorers from Ship 10 with an overall paddling time of  10 hours and 28 minutes, won the Canal Zone Explorers' ocean to ocean cayuco race through the Panama Canal which ended Sunday.

Although the honors go to the three place winners, officials were high in their praise of everyone of the 27 Explorers who participated.  According to records, this is the first race to be held from ocean to ocean through the Canal and, although others have paddled cayucos through, this is the first effort to do it on a time basis.

The entire race was completed without casualties, other than the blisters, sunburn, and tired muscles which were expected.  The Explorers had many thrills enroute, among them the privilege of locking thru Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks.  One could appreciate how small and insignificant the cayucos really were as they lined up beside a huge freighter and two destroyers in the two locks.

Although few of the Explorers had had much experience paddling cayucos and it was later found that some had never paddled one, they are already talking about the race in 1955.   Most of the Explorer Units are planning to secure their own and practice during the year.

This race marks the second "first" for the C.Z. Explorers.  Only recently they opened up the Cruces Trail and five units have completed the trail, with the remaining units scheduled to take the trail within the next two weeks.  Previously, this reactivated program for young men 14 years of age and over have had their own Rendezvous and Bridge of Honor and participated in the Council Scout-O-Rama.

The winning crew was composed of Explorers Wm. Campbell, Stephen Herring, Jim Richardson, and Jim Driscoll.  the ship is sponsored by the Gamboa Civic Council and has Charles Holmes as the Skipper and Fred Saunders as the 1st Mate.

Second Place was Crew 12 from Gatun, Post 3, American Legion, with Explorers Joe Jannigan, Jay Cunningham, Jim Thornton, and Danny George.  J.A. Cunningham is Scoutmaster.   Time was 11 hours and 7 minutes.

Third Place went to Cristobal, Ship 9, sponsored by the Masters, Mates, and Pilots Association 39, with Paul Doyle as Skipper and Paul Lindville as Mate.  Crew members included Barry Davison, Philip Hadaritz, Tom Cookson, and Jerry Dockery.  Their time was 12 hours and 7 minutes.

Other crews entered included:  Post 4, Diablo, Balboa Elks No. 1414, Advisor Wm. Taylor; Crew 1, Roger Griffith, Mike Taylor, Harry Keepers, and Joe Pustis; Crew 2, Jim Watson, Jerry Durfee, Luis Reyes, and Bill Sears.  Post 4 had the most men in the Race.  Squadron 22, Albrook AFB also had two crews, with Clarence Bright, Don Loehr, Joe Blackburn, and Larry Sall in one crew and Marvin Hughey, Gilbert Payne, and Lacy Brown in the other crew.

the presentation ceremonies held at the American Legion Club with the Club host to the adventurous paddlers.  Explorer Chairman Gerald Doyle, Jr. presided at the Ceremony and introduced Commander R.S. Paret, Commodore for the Race, who gave the statistics for the Race.  He gave "Navy Well Done" to all the crews for the excellent job they had done.  He also thanked the many men who had cooperated in making the Race a success.  Col. H.O. Paxson, Council President, presented model cayucos to the three place winners, with cloth medallions to be presented to al the Explorers who participated.   An item which surprised the officials was that not one of the Explorers who started the trip on Friday washed out on the trip.

Over 100 men worked to make the undertaking a safe and memorable experience in the lives of the young men participating.  The Transportation Division, Locks Division, Port Captains Office, Police Division and Dredging Division of the Panama Canal Company assisted;  the Panama Canal Yacht Club, and the Balboa Yacht Club furnished Escorts as well as the Army and Police Division.

Starters and timers included:  Harry Dockery, Wm.A. Van Siclan, Jr., Lt. Leon Kluttz, J.A. Driscoll, R.C. Stockham, T.H. Hoenke, and Commodore Wm. Clark at the Finish Line.   Escort Boats included the Gatun, Gamboa, and Balboa Police Launches, Army J. Boat, and private launches of Anthony Hopiak and Eric Faggerburg, out of Cristobal; C.T. Askew, Millard M. Coleman, J.R. Thompson, and Ship 10 Boat under Skipper Charles Holmes, out of Gamboa; and Paul Coleman, Jack Kerr, Frank Violet, Robert Knapp, and H.H. Shacklett, out of Balboa.  Race Coordinator was Scout Executive R. H. Ashbaugh.


Special Supplement
The Panama American - May 15, 1954
Text and Pics by Ralph K. Skinner

With a theme song of "ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT," seven cayucos with crews of Explorer members of the Canal Zone Boy Scouts paddled speedily across the American continent in the first ocean-to-ocean race through the Panama Canal.

Their craft were native canoes made from hollowed-out logs and the paddles were mostly native-style, too.  The freeboards of some cayucos were only two inches out of the water.  A stout sneeze might mean shipping water.  But what of that?  All the cayucos had bailing cans as part of the SOP. (Standard Operating Procedure.)

In these crude craft ranging from 15 to 30 feet in length, four young men from 14 to 17 years old, sat, squat or kneeled to ply a paddle, two at a time, from Cristobal on the Atlantic to Balboa on the Pacific, some 36 and 7/8ths miles.

The winners, Gamboa's Explorer group of Bill Campbell, Stephen Herring, Jim Richardson, and Jim Driscoll took less than 10 1/2 hours to cover the distance.  This was the elapsed time, since the race actually took place on Friday late afternoon, all day Saturday and most of Sunday.  The laps were Cristobal to Gatun, 4.8 miles; Gatun to Gamboa, 18.75 miles and Gamboa to Balboa Yacht Club 12.75 miles.

The boys who paddled Gatun to Gamboa under a blazing sun will never believe it was only 18.75 miles.  They'll think the decimal point got too far to the left.

Despite the heat and fatigue and blisters and sunburn and even some cramps, the seven starting crews all finished the entire race.  they deserve a lost of credit.   the medallion each will wear as a reward for the trip will carry a lot of meaning.

Despite the fact that the entire route was patrolled by power launches, there was thrill and excitement.  Stamina, perseverance and teamwork were required.

The most memorable time was in the locks.  Here the boats of the Explorers tied up against the wall and, in Miraflores, two Navy destroyers locked through with the seven cayucos.  Down watery escalators, 28 feet at a time, dropped the cayucos with their sun-kissed crews.  While every Explorer had a life preserver, he was required to wear it only while in the locks.

On the last stretch to the Balboa Yacht Club there was a rain which wet the boys down and resulted in some borrowed clothing appearing at the dinner and presentation at the Legion Club in mid-afternoon.

It was my pleasure to accompany Fred Saunders on Police Boat 17 around Gatun Lake on Saturday to get some of these pix.

Every attention was given the crews in the cayucos from liberal canteens-full of water to sunburn lotion.  A little advice to stay in the channel was dished out gratis, also.

The race was planned by the Explorer Committee of Canal Zone Council 801, Boy Scouts of America.  Coordinator for the race was R. H. Ashbaugh, Scout Executive Gerald A. Doyle, Jr., headed the race as General Chairman and Commander  R.S. Paret, USN, blueprinted the race and served as Commodore.

About a hundred adults participated in various ways to make the race a success, but we haven't space for all their names.  What's important is that seven cayucos started and seven finished and the pictures of all seven are here, with their crews.

Albrook AFB Paper
Albrook Scout Teams Transit Canal in Cayuco Race; Place 4th and 7th

Albrook's Air Explorer Scouts, members of Darien Squadron 22, participated last week in a trans-Canal cayuco race, the two Albrook entries placed fourth and seventh competing in competition with twenty-seven air Explorers representing all the squadrons on the Isthmus.

The race was won by the Gamboa Explorers with a paddling time of 10 hours 28 minutes.

This was the first time in the history of the Canal that a race has been staged in its waters.  However, others have transited the Canal on an untimed basis.

Albrook's crews, consisting of a four man and three man team, competed with only two of the seven men having ever previously been in a cayuco.  The boys, Clarence, Don Loehr, Joe Blackburn, and Larry Saal in the leading boat, and Marvin Hughey, Gilbert Payne and Lacy Brown in the second, wound up the race sporting aching muscles, sunburns, and blistered hands.

The boys shoved off from Cristobal Yacht Basin on Friday afternoon and arrived at Balboa Sunday afternoon at 3:30.  they slept in Gatun on Friday night and were guests at the Gamboa civic center on Saturday evening.

One of the minor problems that had to be overcome by the crews was transiting the locks.   At Gatun, the cayucos were carried around the locks by laborers, but the little boats went right through the locks at Pedro Miguel and Miraflores, where they "free passage" by joining ships as they were raised through.

Lt. Leon Kluttz, Albrook and CAirC's project officer for the Air Explorers, acted as a timer during the race.  Lt. Kluttz said that Albrook's unit will soon be renamed Squadron 15, with Capt. E. J. Tackett as advisor.  He said that all boys, age 14 to 18, are eligible to join and participate in squadron activities.  All boys interested should call Lt. Kluttz at Albrook 3220 or 3243.


CZBrats thank Lacy Jones, one of the original paddlers, for contributing these historic articles and pictures about the first Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco race.  Lacy can be reached at:  lrbjjones@earthlink.net   

CZBrats
July 28, 2000
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