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Last Winter, John Pozerski Found the Ultimate Eagle Scout Project

Restoring a 1972 Boston Whaler Super Sport for his hometown’s fire department.

Last Winter, John Pozerski Found the Ultimate Eagle Scout Project

In February 2022, Fire Chief Jeff Simpson of the Marshfield, Massachusetts, Fire Department received a call from a young man he knew well. A 17-year-old named John Pozerski, who he had previously coached in youth hockey. Pozerski, a Life Scout in Scout Troop 101, was pursuing his Eagle Scout rank – the ultimate achievement for a Boy Scout. And he was hoping the fire department might have a project that would fulfill one of his Eagle Scout requirements.

To become an Eagle Scout is to join an elite order, one that only about 2 percent of all Scouts ever achieve. Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neal Armstrong were both Eagle Scouts. As was Philo T. Farnsworth, the man who invented modern television, along with the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, William Moerner. Guion Bluford, the first African American man in space, also donned the elusive Eagle Scout medal. And in 2020, Isabella Tunney, of St. Paul, Minnesota, along with nearly 1,000 other girls, earned the elite rank.

Attaining the Eagle Scout rank takes discipline, dedication and a whole lot of hard work. It’s a journey that often begins at around 10 years of age and sees the Scout ascend through 13 total ranks, culminating in the Eagle Scout award.

Among the numerous requirements, the Eagle Scout candidate must earn at least 21 merit badges, ranging from first aid to cooking, and citizenship in the community to emergency preparedness.

Each candidate is also required to complete at least 18 service hours that benefit a community, school or religious institution. But more important than the total number of hours, the Scout must plan, develop and provide leadership within the service project experience – however long that takes.

So, when Pozerski contacted Simpson, the fire chief consulted with his deputy chiefs and presented some ideas to the young man. Those ideas included jobs like mounting reflectors on hydrants in order to make them easier to identify in snowy weather, completing some landscaping jobs around one of the stations and painting master fire alarm boxes throughout the town.

But a bit farther down the list was a project that caught the then high school junior’s eye, captured his imagination and resonated with his ambitious nature. The job in question: refurbishing Marine 3, the fire department’s 1972 Boston Whaler® Super Sport, a 13-foot experimental hull built in Rockland, Massachusetts.

The boat, no longer in service, was in desperate need of restoring. Or replacing. But replacing the old vessel was simply out of the question financially for the city. On the other hand, refurbishing it would be a monumental task. But when Pozerski learned of the Whaler, he was emphatic with Simpson. “That’s the one. That’s my Eagle Scout project.”

Simpson initially tried to talk Pozerski out of it, but Pozerski couldn’t be dissuaded. “Knowing how big a job this was, I did ask him to reconsider,” said Simpson. “‘Johnny,’ I said, ‘this is bigger than painting a few fire hydrants or installing a new bench, so I’m asking you to rethink your decision.’ But Johnny just gave me this little smile, and I knew right then there was no convincing him otherwise.”

And when Simpson then learned that Pozerski was enrolled in Marshfield High School’s marine fabrication course, he decided it was perhaps the young man’s destiny. Moreover, if Pozerski had the determination and desire to transform the old boat, who was he to stop him?

The two then began taking an inventory of the project - what all needed to be done and what they’d need to do it.

While there were no foundational impingements to the hull, the wood had extensive decay with widespread cracks and splits. Sometime in the 1980s, the old Whaler had been painted with red autobody paint, which was badly peeling, and all the original interior finishes had deteriorated. The entire vessel would need to be stripped, sanded and repainted, and many of its parts would need to be replaced.

Pozerski submitted a proposal to his Boy Scout district, the Mayflower Council, and a few weeks later, it was approved. So, in May 2022, the hard work of restoring Marine 3 began.

The Marshfield Fire Dept. provided Pozerski with the supplies he would need to get the job started. And in the summer of 2022, Pozerski organized a carwash where he raised more than $1,000 in additional capital to complete the project.

Pozerski had the vessel transported to the high school’s marine fabrication shop, where he stripped the boat from bow to stern, removing and rebuilding the boat’s interior in entirety.

From there, the boat moved over to the John Foster Lumber, Co., a family-owned lumber yard in Marshfield, where Pozerski worked part time. There, he stripped off the lights, light bar, wiring and engine. Then, he and a crew of volunteers – mostly Scouts, along with some friends, family members and even some Marshfield firefighters – began the lengthy process of sanding all the paint off the hull.

The hope was to salvage the original gelcoat, but after some 500 to 600 hours of sanding and patching, it was determined that the protective barrier was too far gone to be saved.

“Not being able to save the gelcoat was disappointing,” offered Pozerski. “Knowing that upfront would have saved us a few hundred hours of sanding. But that didn’t stop us. We just kept working.”

When the sanding was completed, they got in touch with Bill Brownlow, parts manager at Safe Harbor Green Harbor Marina in Marshfield, for some guidance. Brownlow – who earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1974 and is the proud father of another Eagle Scout – was eager to lend a hand to the exciting project, helping Pozerski select the right barrier coat as well as a high-quality marine-grade paint in gloss white.

Brownlow also helped acquire all the other parts Pozerski needed. Everything from a new rub rail and steering cable to the stern light and towing eyes. Pozerski and Simpson were committed to maintaining as much of the boat’s authenticity as possible. Delivering genuine vintage Boston Whaler parts down to the decals, Brownlow and Green Harbor didn’t disappoint.

One thing Pozerski couldn’t ask Green Harbor for help with, however, was replacing the 1998 25hp Evinrude® motor. The old engine was in poor shape and no longer capable of powering the vessel in the area’s tidal rivers and open sea.

So, Pozerski took matters into his own hands and contacted Boston Whaler about getting a new engine. Boston Whaler then worked collaboratively with Mercury Marine to get a new Mercury 40hp FourStroke outboard for the vessel.

Sixteen months after that fateful conversation with Chief Simpson, the fully restored ’72 Whaler, completed on February 3, went to MarineMax® Boston to be outfitted with the new Mercury 40hp FourStroke outboard. Rigging was recently completed, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on June 22 at Safe Harbor Green Harbor Marina in Marshfield, where the public got to see what the culmination of 1,300 hours of blood, sweat and tears looks like. With its glossy white hull, and an interior in classic Whaler blue, its red dockline and blue fender covers, it’s a look that, as Green Harbor’s Brownlow put it, “oozes early Americana.” Vivid, glorious and brave! It’s a holistic celebration of vision and follow-through. A seamless marriage of honor and integrity, passion and partnership.

Simpson and the Marshfield Fire Dept. are eager to have Marine 3 back in their fleet. With its new Mercury outboard, the refurbished Whaler will be able to respond to emergencies, and will serve as complementary support to their coastal community. It will assist mostly in the harbor, as well as rivers and tributaries – areas where the harbor master’s larger vessel simply can’t access.

And in case you’re wondering, after completing his project, Pozerski submitted the results to the Boy Scouts for their review, and in February, he officially received the rank of Eagle Scout, an honor he most certainly earned. In the fall, Pozerski will be attending the Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he will be pursuing his Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Firefighter certifications.

All of us at Mercury tip our hats to John, Chief Simpson and the numerous volunteers and businesses that helped bring this ambitious project to a successful completion. We are in awe of John’s vision and commitment, and are honored to be a part of the community that rallied behind him. Congratulations, John, on your amazing achievement and for earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Go Boldly!

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