Seventeen-year-old Kaua’i resident Taryn Mann, the highest-ranking youth leader among all Hawaii Sea Scouts, is poised to represent the Garden Isle in the biggest Sea Scout event in the nation: The Ancient Mariner Regatta on Memorial Day weekend on San Francisco Bay.
“We are going to stay on the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Hornet in Alameda,” Larry Richard-on, Flotilla commander for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and commodore of the Sea Scouts and Aloha Council, says of the upcoming trip. “So for the second time in the 61-year history of this event, the Hawaiian flag will be there, and Taryn will be carrying it.”
The regatta amounts to a Sea Scouts Olympics.
Mann currently is the Aloha Council Boatswain representing the state.
“I’m a little nervous about carrying the flag, but if the Council Boatswain before me, Jacob Sauceda, could do it, I believe that I will be able, too,” she says.
It’s an adventurous experience in which Mann participated last year (in a different capacity), something that includes meeting fellow scouts from around the world.
“There were hundreds, and meeting many of them was really nice,” she says. “My favorite event at the regatta was the obstacle course. It didn’t look hard,
but by the end of it I was trying not to pass out. The challenge of it is what made it so much fun.”
Born and raised on Kaua’i, with a childhood in Hanalei, the Kapa’a High School student says the ocean inspires and affects most aspects of her life. “We went to the beach every single day when I was little,” she says. “It has been a part of my life forever.”
Having set her sights high, Mann has moved up the ranks from “apprentice” and “ordinary” to “able” status in Sea Scouts. Working to achieve her “quartermaster” status, she is the highest-ranking youth leader in the program in the state. (Quartermaster is the Sea Scouts’ equivalent to an Eagle Scout).
As part of her quartermaster requirements, Mann must complete a long list of tasks, including managing a community project. She has chosen a project that will aim to make life a little safer for Kaua’i beach-goers. In light of the 11 drownings this year, Mann is initiating a project to shelter loaner lifejackets for beachgoers at Nawiliwili Harbor.
“I wanted to give back to the harbor and Coast Guard after all they’ve done for me, and thought that this would be a great way,” she says.
Mann plans to build a shelter so loaner jackets can not only be protected from the weather, but become “more noticeable” to those who could use them.
The community project may prove to be a little challenging, as Mann will submit her plans to DLNR, and likely will have to lobby the Coast Guard auxiliary to help fund it.
But challenge is part of Mann’s MO. Her favorite classes are anything mathematics- and science-related – whether it be AP calculus or chemistry – and she plans to become a doctor. Excelling in mathematics and sciences will not only help in reaching her career goals, but comes in handy for Sea Scouts, too, especially for navigation purposes.
“I feel like it is kind of tedious and meticulous and exact, which I really like and enjoy,” she says of her preferred course of study.
Another requirement for quartermaster status is an elective, and Mann chose celestial navigation. More instrument-based than traditional Polynesian wayfinding, it can be practiced with a manual sextant, star map and logbook. Richardson says the principles are the same as Capt. Cook used, some of which are similar to theories applied by ancient Hawaiians. The crew gave Mann a sextant and book for it.
“You’re judging the distance or angle from a particular celestial body,” Richardson explains.
Also in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), Mann says what draws her to these kinds of military-style disciplines is a sense of community.
“Being a part of it, you realize how much of a family they are,” she says. “And it teaches you discipline, leadership skills, responsibility and motivation.”
And, according to Richardson, those are the qualities Mann exemplifies.
Having been with Sea Scouts on Kaua’i since its inception in 2009, one of the programs offered thanks to Kaua’i Police Activities League, Richardson has seen his share of youths go through the program.
“She was so shy and quiet,” he says of Mann, when she joined as a freshman. “Since she’s become a part of Sea Scouts, I have seen her confidence shoot up, and she has developed so much as a leader. I don’t think four years ago she saw herself as a leader. Now she has the respect and admiration of all the other kids.”
That respect and admiration have likely made some of the quartermaster status challenges a little easier, including having commanded the Sea Fox escort boat on cruises around the island, and acting as commanding officer of SSS Decisive for a three-day cruise. It was a responsibility Mann cites as stressful, but worth it.
“I didn’t want to mess up, and having that much responsibility was a bit nerve-wracking,” she says. “However … afterward I felt so accomplished, like I could do anything in the world.”
“Anything” includes hopes to attend the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.
“I love Kaua’i and this will always be my home, but I love change and to do adventures and try new things, so I’m really excited, especially since I haven’t experienced cold before.”
Richardson is confident that Mann will do well.
“I think she will do awesome,” Richardson says. “She has a lot of practical experience and knows what she is getting into. I think, beyond that, what is really important is people graduate from the CGA and go on to be an officer in the Coast Guard. She has the practical experience, but also can lead people. She understands to be a leader means you have to be the type that people want to follow.”
When she isn’t at the helm, Mann enjoys exercising, reading and drawing, the latter of which “goes with my art passion and perfectionist aspect,” she says.
She also is on the Waianae Adventure Team for JROTC, volunteers for the Big Brothers Big Sisters and was honored April 26 by Kaua’i Veterans Club for her “tireless efforts, unfading loyalty and devotion to her peers and community.”